Smart pills: photos, fins and phones

FRESNO, Calif.

Having fun with his family until recently Jesse Krusinkski would have much rather stayed in his room than hang out with anyone.

"I started realizing I was getting more tired and more tired and I started getting pains in my stomach," Jesse Krusinski told Action News.

For two and a half years doctors couldn't figure out the problem.

"It was hard because there was nothing we could do, or give Jesse to make him feel better," Cheryl Krusinski, Jesse's mother, said.

"We took him to the hospital and they did tests multiple times, upper GI, lower GI, they'd show us the pictures, they'd be completely clear," John Krusinski, Jesse's father, said.

"I was frustrated. I was tired of not knowing the answer," Jesse Krisinski said.

Then at the Cleveland clinic, Dr. Lori Mahajan recommended Jesse take one little pill.

"They swallow it with six to eight ounces of water," Lori Mahajan,M.D., fellowship director at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, explained.

The pillcam has a small camera on board. It wirelessly beams pictures to a recording device.

"The pillcam sends images, two per second to the recording device resulting in approximately 55,000 to 58,000 images in approximately eight hours," Dr. Mahajan said.

The pictures are downloaded so doctors can look deep into the small intestines frame by frame where traditional endoscopy tools can't reach. Without the pillcam surgery or other invasive procedures would be needed to get these images. Jesse's pictures revealed dozens of ulcers.

"And the doctor said it's definitely Crohn's and it was that simple," John said.

"This otherwise would be undiagnosable by any other technology," Dr. Mahajan explained.

And it's not just for older kids and adults, Dr. Mahajan says capsule endoscopy has been used in patients less than a year old.

"It's been an absolutely wonderful technology. It's being increasingly utilized," Dr. Mahajan said.

Meanwhile researchers in Ryukoku University, Osaka, Japan are working on the mermaid. It also takes pictures of the digestive system. But with its fin it can be guided to certain areas by remote control. Capsules like this could one day do much more than help with a diagnosis.

"They may be an option for removing polyps or treating blood lesions," Dr. Mahajan said.

At the University of Florida, antenna technology is printed on pills and can send a signal to a patient's cell phone to help them remember to take their medication. Once the pill's digested that data can be relayed to their doctor's phone, so they know what the patients taking and when.

Back at Jesse's house the games continue. He's now getting the treatment he needs for his Crohn's disease.

"I hope that I can go into remission and live a normal life for a while," Jesse said.

The pillcam procedure costs about 1,500 dollars. Most insurance companies do cover the cost when it's used to investigate bleeding in the small intestines. She says for children the only major side effect of capsule endoscopy is the small chance of the pill getting stuck in the small intestines. The risk of that happening is less than five percent. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Tora Vinci
Media Relations
Cleveland Clinic
(216) 444-2412

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