Medical Minute 11-7: Smart Pills

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

Having fun with his family. Until recently Jesse Krusinkski would have much rather stayed in his room than hang out with anyone.

"I started realizing I was getting more tired and more tired and I started getting pains in my stomach."

For two and a half years doctors couldn't figure out the problem. Then at the Cleveland Clinic, Doctor Lori Mahajan recommended Jesse take one of these.

"They swallow it with 6 to 8 ounces of water."

The pillcam has a small camera on board. It wirelessly beams pictures to this device

"The pillcam sends images, two per second to the recording device resulting in approximately 55,000 to 58,000 images," Dr. Lori Mahajan, Fellowship Director Pediatric Gastroenterology Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

So doctors can look deep into the small intestines frame by frame, where traditional endoscopy tools can't reach. Without the pillcam, surgery or other invasive procedures would be needed to get these images. Jesse's pictures revealed dozens of ulcers.

"And the doctor said it's definitely Crohn's and it was that simple."

"This otherwise would be undiagnosable by any other technology."

Meanwhile, researchers in Japan are working on the mermaid. It also takes pictures of the digestive system, but with its fin it can be guided to certain areas by remote control!

"They may be an option for removing polyps or treating blood lesions."

Back at Jesse's house, the games continue. He's now getting the treatment he needs for his Crohn's disease.

"I hope that I can go into remission and live a normal life for a while."

Picturing a painless future, thanks to a tiny camera.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,


BACKGROUND: Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. A capsule endoscopy camera sits inside a vitamin-sized capsule that you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist. Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine — an area that isn't easily reached with more-traditional endoscopy procedures. (

RISKS: Capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure that carries few risks. In most cases, the capsule will leave your body when you have a bowel movement later in the day or within several days. In rare cases, the capsule can become lodged in your digestive tract. The risk is thought to be small — about one percent of people undergoing capsule endoscopy may experience capsule retention. Put another way, this means that for every 100 people who undergo capsule endoscopy, one person might still retain the capsule after two weeks. The risk may be slightly higher in people known to have Crohn's disease. (

THE MERMAID: Researchers from Ryukoku University and Osaka Medical College in Japan have developed a self-propelled remote-controlled endoscopic pill. One centimeter wide and 4.5 centimeters long, it has a tail fin-like magnetic driving gear that allow it to “swim” through the digestive tract. It is controlled using a joystick and can be swallowed or inserted rectally. (
ID CAP: eTect is a development stage company creating ID-Cap, an innovative solution that uses novel technology and the mobile internet to provide real-time verification of medication adherence. The patented ID-Cap system consists of three major elements: 1) biocompatible transponder tags affixed to the medication; 2) a reader worn by the patient, and; 3) a user interface application residing on a mobile phone. The ID-Cap is applied to the medicine, the patient ingests it, and upon ingestion the tag reports to a wristband reader worn by the patient. The tag breaks down into small particles and passes harmlessly through the digestive tract. The patient's cell phone will be running eTect's medication reminder app that will read the medication information, remind the patient to take the medication, and provide the medication adherence information to their clinical research or healthcare team.


Tora Vinci
Media Relations
Cleveland Clinic
(216)444 -2412

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