Future Testing Will Be Music to Patients' Ears
WebMD News Archive
Another approach to imaging of the digestive track is as simple as
swallowing a capsule. Researchers in the U.K. and Israel have developed a
wireless video camera that transmits images, of the stomach and intestines, as
it moves though the digestive tract. "It's a gulpable minicam," says
Sandra Ziv, the marketing manager at Given Imaging in Yogneam in Israel.
"The capsules shoot an eight-hour movie, then computer software turns it
into a 20-minute film clip."
The video capsules are not likely to replace gastroscopy and endoscopy, in
which a long flexible scope is passed through the throat. "Capsules have
fewer risks and don't require sedation, but traditional procedures will still
be needed to treat digestive disorders," adds Ziv. "For diagnosing
problems, the cost will be about the same and patients can continue their daily
activities without interruption." Ziv tells WebMD that the new device could
be available later this year.
Computer software also can be used to increase the value of imaging tests.
Doctors miss one in four breast cancers with mammograms, but computer-aided
diagnosis makes doctors better, according to David Ku, MD, PhD, an assistant
professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and professor of
mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, both in Atlanta.
With Ku's Internet-based application, doctors can compare abnormalities to a
growing database of digital mammograms, providing a virtual second opinion. In
addition to early cancer detection, Ku believes computer-aided diagnosis will
reduce the number of false positive readings, resulting in fewer breast
biopsies. The makers plan to launch the program in January.
Intelligent computers also may provide an alternative to the arteriogram,
where a small tube is fed through the groin to view blood vessels of the heart
and neck. "A traditional MRI scan [similar to an x-ray] overestimates
blockage, but artificial intelligence makes it as accurate as an arteriogram,
without all the risks," says Harris Bergman, PhD, a biomedical engineer and
co-founder of Atlanta-based MediZeus. "Bergman tells WebMD that the
MRAngiogram will be available in about three years at one quarter the cost of
the traditional method.