WJBF EXTRA: The SmartPill Revolutionizes Medical Technology - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF EXTRA: The SmartPill Revolutionizes Medical Technology

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By Jennie Montgomery

If you have ever been to the doctor with severe stomach problems or pains, you've likely had X-rays or you had to swallow tubes for different studies involving radiation.

Those studies took a long time and didn't measure patients in their normal environments-- rather, they were stretched out on tables. Now, physicians have a device which will gather date without putting the patient through a lot of radiation.

It's called the SmartPill and unlike the camera pill, which you've heard about, this capsule transmits data that gives doctors real-time information about what's happening inside your body.

Technician: "So for right now I can't give you any water, you just have to chew the bar and once you're done with the bar and you get ready to swallow the pill, I'll be able to give you some water, ok?"

The pill she's referencing is a tiny wireless motility capsule called the SmartPill.

Dr. Satish Rao: "It's a huge leap in our understanding, in our diagnostic ability to help patients . For the very first time, we are able to study the entire gut profile, that is the rate at which the stomach is emptying, the rate at which the small bowel is moving or emptying, the rate at which the colon is moving or emptying-- without radiation and in a relatively non-invasive way."

Technician: "So this is your smartpill, this is what it looks like."

The capsule is a little bigger than a fish oil supplement. Technology that's being used right here in Augusta... the first generation of any device that a patient swallows which provides information about what's happening in the body as it moves through the body.

The SmartPill is used primarily for three major complaints: unexplained nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, or chronic constipation.

Dr. Rao: "I also have many patients who come with a diffused motility problems. That is, the have mixed problems- upper problems and lower problems."

Technician: "Once you get it down press the event button. Allright, capsule ingestion is your first event- and look at the time for me."

Dr. Rao: "Once they swallow it, they then wear a small recorder and the capsule emits these three signals: the temperature signal, the pressure signal, and the pH signal, through infrared activity and that is picked up by the recorder which the subject is wearing...

Dr. Satish Rao has been involved with the developent of the capsule for the last 8 years, conducting studies and authoring papers well before the device was made available for clinical use.

"Many times what happens is, people are enthusiastic- they come up with devices and we find, 'oh, I don't think the scientific data really supports this.' but here we did it the other way around."

Rao led the research and mentored others in this ground-breaking technology that will revolutionize medical testing.

"I'm really excited to be part of the development of this technology- nice to be at the forefront and to really be at the cutting-edge of research."

More than a pioneer, though, the doctor sees himself as a gentle healer.

"If there's one thing I take home everyday it's the fact that i've been able to help a lot of patients. that is the most satisfying feeling from this."

The SmartPill test is started at the doctor's office, but once the patient swallows it, they can go about their regular daily activities. They simply press a button on the monitor to record events, and keep a food and sleep journal. The pill stays in the body up to three days.

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