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Pill-Sized Camera for Colonoscopies Approved by the FDA

Update Date: Feb 10, 2014 04:25 PM EST

Despite how uncomfortable colonoscopies can be, they are extremely necessary for detecting any issues with the large intestines, which include the rectum and colon. Colonoscopies, which include the process of inserting a long, thin and flexible tube that has a camera through the largest intestine, are often used to find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors and any areas of inflammation or bleeding. Fortunately, colonoscopies could be a thing of the past for some people as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a pill-sized camera that could be used in replacement of a colonoscopy.

The latest innovation, PillCam Colon, manufactured by Given Imaging is an ingestible pill camera that will allow doctors to look inside patient's colon for polyps and possible signs of colon cancer. The device is currently only approved for people who have trouble with colonoscopies. The bite-size camera has been in the works for over a decade. In 2001, Given Imaging created a very similar device that was promising. However, the images it took were not as clear as the images gathered from a colonoscopy.

Now the PillCam Colon could be able to help an estimated 750,000 American patients who cannot undergo a colonoscopy due to their anatomy, various colon diseases and previous surgeries. The company developed PillCam Colon as an option for people who cannot undergo colonoscopies as opposed to attempting to replace colonoscopies.

"Given's management understands that the traditional colonoscopy is the gastroenterologist's bread and butter right now," Debbie Wang, an analyst from MorningStar, said according to the Huffington Post. "So they didn't want to do anything that would position this as a substitute."

The device is projected to bring in over $60 million within North America by 2019. The PillCam Colon currently costs $500, which is a lot less than the roughly $4,000 for a colonoscopy.

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