Cancer detecting pill camera used on 2,000th patient in Scotland

A bowel screening procedure featuring a tiny camera inside a pill has been used on its 2,000th Scottish patient.

Jacqueline Gribbon said she "didn't feel anything at all" after swallowing the tablet.

The Colon Capsule Endoscopy device, or Pillcam, passes through the digestive system taking 50,000 pictures of the bowel on its way.

Ms Gribbon, from Glasgow, had a two week wait to find out that she did not have colon cancer.

The health care worker told BBC Scotland: "A [traditional] colonoscopy is quite uncomfortable and because I have sleep apnoea as well, I can't get a lot of sedation.

"It's a lot easier, it's just swallowing a tablet, the prep is just the same as for a normal colonoscopy and it's a really good option if you're worried about the procedure as it's a lot less invasive.

"It's painless, it's not uncomfortable at all, it's easy to do and as long as you follow your prep work it's straight forward, I'd definitely recommend it."

The images from the camera are stored in a recorder worn on a belt around the patient's waist. Although they swallow the device in hospital patients are able to go home and allow the single-use capsule to pass through their digestive system.

Professor Angus Watson, consultant colorectal surgeon and clinical lead for colon capsule endoscopy, said: "We are delighted to reach this milestone of 2,000 patients receiving this exciting, fast and effective diagnostic procedure.

"Traditionally, patients undergoing this test would require sedation and could be quite anxious coming in for their appointment.

"This test is painless and although they will still need to undergo the same cleansing preparation beforehand, all they are doing is swallowing the capsule and letting the camera do the work.

"This advancement in cancer diagnosis is excellent news for the people of Scotland and allows us to not only put patients first, but supports our plans as we continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic."

'Improving long term outcomes'

The programme is part of Scotland's Colon Capsule Endoscopy Service (Scotcap) which aims to detect bowel cancer early so that treatment can be provided as quickly as possible.

As the number of traditional colonoscopies which could be carried out was reduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, clinicians have been using the capsule to see and treat more patients while reducing waiting times, and ensuring patients receive reassurance or a quick diagnosis.

Dr John Thomson, a consultant gastroenterologist, said the technology had great potential to improve patient experience with faster diagnostic imaging, "facilitating targeted treatments and improving long term outcomes".

He added: "This cutting-edge technology will not only help people get the health checks they need but also make it as convenient and as quick as possible."

Originally published on BBC News.