When we cut ourselves or run into something, we are typically left with a bruise or a wound. It's usually pretty easy to spot. But when something isn't working internally, it's hard to get a grasp of it because we can't see the problem. We met a little boy from Brookings who got help by swallowing a camera the size of a pill.
Plagued with diarrhea and loose stools, Nathaniel is also being treated for allergies, acid reflux, and gastritis. In July, Nathaniel's Gastroenterologist, Dr. Stephan Nanton, performed a biopsy on on him to confirm he has Celiac Disease. He does. During that procedure the Buus's (Chris and Trish Matson Buus) and Nathaniel's small intestine were introduced to the PillCam.
Nathaniel's mom Trish Matson Buus says, "Nathaniel was sedated for the biopsy and Dr. Nanton found some other things that concerned him and wanted to take a closer look. That's when he asked us if it was okay to insert the pill cam through an endoscope since he was already out. One of the things they found were polyps which is pretty unusual for a little guy of his age. He wanted to see if they were all through his small intestine.
It's a little more complicated than just swallowing a pill. Before you can do that they like to get you fitted with electrodes. They are placed on your skin on your lower belly. Then you have to wear a belt with a data recorder on it. Once you pill is in your system it starts taking pictures from your esophagus to your colon. 56,000 pictures in 8 hours goes to this data recorder. It could take another 2 days for the pill to exit your body, but it will.
Dr. Stephan Nanton Avera Pedatric Gastroenterologist says, "The pill cam is good at looking at the small intestine. A region previously we were not able to access. With the camera we can see the entire gastro intestinal tract. It's good at detecting pathology in the GI tract. Celiac Disease which is an intolerance to gluten. 1% of the population has Celiac Disease. It helps detect Crohn's Disease also ulcerative diseases of the small intestine. Iron deficiency (anemia), obscure GI bleeding where there is blood loss and we are unsure where it's coming from. It has proven to be very useful and successful."
With the PillCam Dr. Nanton discovered polyps all through Nathaniels small intestine. They don't know what's causing them yet, but at least it's a starting point made possible by a picture capturing capsule. A sort of high tech medical version of peek-a-boo.
Nathaniel will be re-checked in December by using the PillCam again. His mom Trish says Dr. Nanton wants to wait and see if a gluten-free diet will decrease the size and number of polyps.