The Gastroenterology Unit of Joan XXIII University Hospital has added a new technique to its portfolio of services known as capsule endoscopy, an advanced technique for studying the small intestine. This technique is primarily used to study gastrointestinal haemorrhage of obscure origin, tumours in the small intestine, intestinal polyp syndromes and inflammatory bowel disease.
In order to launch this new project, specialists from the Gastroenterology Unit, Margarita Menacho and Belén Ballesté, underwent exhaustive training at Olympus headquarters in Hamburg, Germany as well as in Hospital Clinic in Barcelona. The healthcare specialists in this technique have the support of a nursing team from the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit.
Capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive diagnostic technique which employs a small capsule which the patient takes orally. The capsule travels the length of the digestive tract collecting images of the small intestine. At the end its intestinal transit, the capsule is expelled in the faeces. The complete system consists of the endoscopic device in the form of a capsule, a video recorder which the patient wears while the capsule is transiting the intestine and an external computer to process the images obtained so they can be studied by a medical team. The software can disclose the approximate location of lesions seen by the capsule inside the digestive tract, making them easier to treat.
The endoscopic capsule is used to study the small intestine, which was difficult to access before the application of this technique. It is not meant to replace fibrogastroscopy for the study of the upper intestine, nor colonoscopy for endoscopic study of the colon. The endoscopic capsule is a diagnostic tool, and it cannot take biopsies nor is it used for treatment. So when lesions are discovered in the small intestine, appropriate therapeutic measures must be taken, i.e. endoscopic measures such as enteroscopy or surgery.
On February 3, the first patient was studied using this technique at Joan XXIII Hospital. There were no complications in the procedure for putting on the device worn by the patient or the administration of the capsule.
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