Comanche County Memorial Hospital has new technology that helps doctors find gastrointestinal bleeding at the hospital instead of sending them over an hour away for the test. Dr. Michael Sawyer, General Surgeon at CCMH, said they use what’s called a PillCam to examine the small intestine.

“It simply tumbles its way through the small bowel,” Dr. Sawyer said. “And on its way down, it essentially takes an internal video of the entire small bowel and can help us to identify sources of small bleeding there.”

When a patient needs to do a PillCam study, they go to the Gastroenterology Lab at Outpatient Center and swallow what looks like a large pill, but is actually a camera.

“The pill will just go down, and from there, we connect our receiver that transmits and receives all the images and a little contraption that is kinda like a belt that receives information as well,” said GI Lab RN Bryan Jameson.

After they confirm the pill is in the stomach, the patient can go home until the 8 to 12-hour study is complete. While it’s passing through the body, it’s taking a picture around every second or two.

“It’s able to take pictures along the way so that we can see the entirety of the GI tract,” Jameson said.

Dr. Sawyer said they can’t always find the source of the bleeding through an upper endoscopy or a colonoscopy, which is why a PillCam is sometimes needed.

“We just recently started that, and we’ve already picked one up on a patient that had upper and lower endoscopy where no source of bleeding was found,” he said. “We found three small sources of bleeding in her small intestine which were due to use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”

Dr. Sawyer said after stopping the medicine, her hemoglobin went up. He said people are referred to him by their doctor. The PillCam study is usually ordered after an endoscopy and a colonoscopy is done, and doctors are not able to find the source of the bleeding.

“If someone has a particular complaint or symptom, it’s always good to find out what the cause is because it gives them peace of mind,” Dr. Sawyer said. “Usually, it’s something that’s relatively easily treated, we just have to identify it, and the pill camera allows us to project our vision to places that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”

Dr. Sawyer said the camera doesn’t get stuck and makes its way out without many people even noticing. He said if doctors don’t spot bleeding when looking at the video, physicians can then look for other sources.