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Gastroenterology

Capsule Endoscopy

Visualizing the winding, complex 15 feet of small intestine which connect the stomach to the colon has been notoriously difficult. Although diagnostic methods such as barium x-rays and endoscopy can be helpful, Virginia Hospital Center became the first healthcare facility in Northern Virginia to offer a new, effective and rather unusual way to detect and diagnose inflammatory diseases, GI tract tumors, unexplained bleeding and other problems. It's called capsule endoscopy. It's a painless, non-invasive procedure that requires no anesthesia. And all the patient has to do is swallow.

The capsule in capsule endoscopy is a wireless probe the size of a large vitamin . This amazing device contains a tiny camera, light source, battery, antenna and radio transmitter. As it winds its way through the small intestine, the capsule sends video images to a half-dozen external sensors affixed to the patient's abdomen; those images are recorded by a device the size of a Walkman, worn on a waistband or belt, and later downloaded to a computer for analysis. The capsule itself is made of materials which will pass naturally from the digestive system.

Virginia Hospital Center remains one of only a few hospitals in the Washington, DC, area that offer this state-of-the-art procedure.
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