The capsule, the size of a large vitamin pill, is swallowed by patients and journeys through the gut as food. As it passes through the digestive system it captures thousands of images of the lining of the bowel to help identify any signs of disease such as cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. These images are automatically transmitted to a recorder device worn on a belt around the patient’s waist which they return to the hospital within 24 hours.
The single-use capsule passes through the patient’s bowel and is able to be flushed away. The initiative is part of Scotland’s Colon Capsule Endoscopy Service to help detect bowel cancer earlier.
Clinicians say the use of the new capsule will allow them to see and treat more patients and reduce waiting times.
Paul Hendry, consultant colorectal surgeon and clinical lead for endoscopy, NHS Forth Valley, said: “We are excited to offer this new diagnostic procedure in Forth Valley.
"Swallowing the capsule with water is painless and the patient does not need to be sedated although they still have to undergo the same bowel-cleansing preparation as a patient undergoing a colonoscopy. It will allow us to prioritise patients that still need to undergo colonoscopy and support our recovery plans as we work hard to address the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”
Although the procedure is not suitable for every patient, those who meet the criteria are now able to attend new weekly SCOTCAP clinics at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
Initially, around 450 – 500 local patients a year are expected to undergo the new colon capsule endoscopy procedure which will support NHS Forth Valley’s current endoscopy services and allow the Health Board to investigate a greater number of patients more quickly.