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Capsule Endoscopy

Avera Sacred Heart is the first in the region to use a clinically proven medical technology that allows the physician to see what no one has ever been able to fully capture before -- the entire 21 feet of the human small intestine.

The M2A Capsule Endoscopy procedure involves swallowing a capsule equipped with a tiny camera, which then shoots two pictures per second as it travels through the digestive system. The whole procedure takes eight hours and the pill is passed out of the body in approximately 24 hours.

The hospital tried out the technology last year with two test patients.  "I was so impressed with the results,” said Dr. Dr. Steve Gutnik, gastroenterologist, Yankton Medical Clinic, PC.  "We had superb outcomes and this technology was a critical tool in establishing their diagnoses."

An Effective Diagnostic Tool

Clinically proven as an effective diagnostic tool.  The M2A Capsule Endoscope is a clinically proven medical technology that helps doctors diagnose various small intestine disorders including obscure bleeding, Crohn's disease, malabsorption, and unexplained abdominal pain. It is also used to diagnose patients that have a family history of small bowel cancer.

"Much of the time, patients using this technology have had multiple blood transfusions and persistent symptoms," Gutnik said. "We may also use the pill cam for someone with chronic diarrhea of an unclear cause, and disorders like Sprue or wheat allergy. Often with diseases like this, X-rays allow us to diagnose the problems after it is really too late. Treatments do not work as good with a delayed diagnosis. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can start treatment."

Dorothy Vendshus of Yankton was proud to be the first patient to undergo the procedure since the hospital's purchase of the equipment. Vendshus had unexplained bleeding that caused her to need blood transfusions.  As for swallowing that camera, she said, "It's not as big as a piece of potato or meat. I'll be able to swallow it with a little water."

Capsule is Convenient

Gutnik said one of the big advantages of the pill cam is its convenience. There is no bowel preparation. Patients are asked to eat only clear liquids from noon the day before the procedure.  They swallow the pill and can have a glass of water two hours later and a light meal after four hours. Images are recorded for eight hours, but the patients are allowed to go home and go about their daily chores.

Gutnik said he is proud and anxious to be part of this new technology and hopes it leads to other technological endeavors. "I think this will really establish us as a regional center for this type of advanced work," he said.