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A Smart Way to Diagnose GI Disorders

Mark O'Neill, MHS ’00

Mark O'NeillWe recently began to offer the SmartPill Wireless Motility Capsule to aid in the evaluation and diagnosis of motility disorders. Motility disorders are conditions that affect the movements of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the contents within it.

The SmartPill Capsule, an ingestible medical device about the size of a multivitamin, replaces the use of time-consuming, non-standardized hospital tests that expose patients to radiation. We use SmartPill to thoroughly evaluate patients with suspected motility disorders (abnormal digestion of the stomach, small bowel, and colon), specifically gastroparesis and chronic constipation. Patients with symptoms of nausea, belching, bloating, distention, abdominal pain, or constipation are possible candidates for the SmartPill.

How does it work? The patient eats a small meal in the physician’s office, swallows the SmartPill Capsule and then returns to daily activities. As the capsule travels through the GI tract, it collects data, and wirelessly transmits that information to the SmartPill Data Receiver worn on the belt. The receiver is later returned to the physician's office where the data is downloaded and evaluated.

Using SmartPill we can identify which section of the GI tract is dysfunctional and alter treatment to the specific abnormal site. SmartPill allows us to measure pH, temperature, contraction dynamics and the motility of the GI tract, something that we could never do in the past. By putting all three things together, we can determine how long it takes to empty your stomach, small bowel and colon. It truly represents a safe, minimally invasive way of investigating unexplained GI symptoms. This technology has given patients who struggled to get definitive answers about the nature of their GI problems a sense of peace and given providers a valuable tool to direct a course of treatment.

Mark O'Neill is the Executive Director of Lancaster Gastroenterology, Inc., a private specialty practice.

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