GASTROPARESIS: Benefits of the SmartPill
A new, non-surgical way to diagnose a serious gastrointestinal problem
An estimated 50 percent of people with diabetes, along with many people with Parkinson's disease, suffer from gastroparesis—slow gastric emptying, in which food stays in the stomach for more than four hours. Yet, even with symptoms like lack of appetite, vomiting, stomach spasms, bloating and weight loss, they may not be aware that they suffer from this underdiagnosed condition.
Thankfully, The SmartPill GI Monotoring System not only offers the potential for better gastrointestinal evaluation, but also a much faster, less invasive approach. Up until now, patients would have to undergo a number of tests, "anywhere from an endoscopy to a barium test to a gastric-emptying centrifugy test," says David Barthel, president and CEO of the SmartPill Corporation. "These patients will often run through all these procedures and it could take anywhere from six months to two years to accurately diagnose a motility problem."
SmartPill, on the contrary, aims for a diagnosis in mere days. Patients simply swallow a vitamin-sized capsule that travels through the digestive system, measuring pressure and pH, gastric-emptying time, combined small and large bowel transit time and total transit time. It then transmits the data wirelessly to a receiver that's worn on the patient's belt or around his neck (the range is five feet, though, so it can be removed for sleeping and showering). The transmitting capsule is naturally excreted from the body and disposed of when it has completed its journey, and the patient returns the data-filled receiver to the doctor for analysis.
"GI professionals no longer need to rely on what has been the traditional, and often inaccurate, test methodology," says Braden Kuo, MD, chairman of SmartPill's scientific advisory board, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and assistant in medicine, department of internal medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. "New doors will be opened for those who treat patients with underdiagnosed motility disorders, giving them the opportunity to collect data and measure transit time in a way that's never been done before."