August 20, 2008

How About Letting A Capsule Videograph Your Intestine?

In electronics we use integrated circuits (IC) to digitize analog signals, amplify them, and encode and transmit them where necessary. Digital logic ICs come in handy where generation of oscillator frequencies, for transmission of signals is needed.

These logic ICs come in broadly 2 types: CMOS-FET (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor- Field Effect Transistor) and TTL (Transistor Transistor Logic). While TTL ICs offer higher speed, they also consume higher current and a fixed regulated voltage (typically 5V). CMOS ICs work happily anywhere between 3V and 18V. Voltage regulation is not necessary. Moreover, they consume much less current, making a battery last longer.

This is perhaps why scientists used CMOS devices in this capsule. They used a CMOS capsule (shown on capsule endoscope camerathe left) to film the innards of human beings. Patients were made to ingest (take orally) this capsule, which contained a tiny camera and was capable of transmitting the pictures, as it traveled through the gastrointestinal tract. It photographed noninvasively and unobtrusively. The wireless endoscope snapped and transmitted the films in several frames per second. A radio receiver was placed outside the body to pick the signals and the signals were processed. You get the picture effortlessly while the capsule toiled.

small intestinal erosion filmed by a capsule endoscopeThe capsule labored till the battery lasted or it was passed in the stool. The whole story sounds somewhat like voyager space probes. These little capsules are now routinely assisting surgeons in finding polyps, tumors and other pathologies like ulcerated mucosae. The picture on the left shows a real snap of small intestinal mucosal erosion (red area in the center). In a study in Imperial College, London, UK, by Hamdulay and others on Behcet syndrome, 10 out of 11 known cases showed intestinal ulcerations in this method.

May be
in near future they will even perform surgeries through remote control.

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