New technology in the form vitamin-sized capsules, known as edible electronics, may be the future of colorectal cancer screening. Currently in development, such capsules can be swallowed and used to capture images inside the digestive tract. One design known as PillCam, from Medtronic, uses two mini-cameras that are capable of capturing 35 frames per second. What distinguishes PillCam is its ability to harvest images of the small intestine; a particularly difficult spot to reach with the traditional scope. Innovative as they are, edible electronics are not yet a perfect formulation. During a procedure, doctors can spot polyps and usually remove them on the spot. With a PillCam, photos can be captured, but nothing can be removed. Despite this, the FDA has approved Medtronic’s device for screening certain types of colon cancer in those not suited for anesthesia. Looking forward, researchers strive to turn these capsules into full functioning robots, which are capable of both capturing images and performing tasks.
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