Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oh, patents! The colonoscopy pill

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Question:  How do you combine a patent translation blog with a medical translation one?
Answer: The colonoscopy pill!

 A colonoscopy is an endoscopic, medical imaging procedure, where a long flexible tube, called an  endoscope, measuring 48 to 72 inches and equipped with a light and a video camera is inserted through the rectum to examine the lining of the large intestine called the colon, and sometimes the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum. The colonoscopy is designed as a screening test, where bleeding may be detected; small growths, called polyps may be removed; and biopsies of any abnormal tissues may be performed. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes to an hour, and is performed under new anesthetics called conscious sedation.
The colonoscopy has become almost a “rite of passage” in the US for the 50 something crowd as the CDCs (Centers for Disease Control) recommend colonoscopies every 10 years beginning at age 50 to 75 as part of routine colorectal cancer screening procedures.
The risks of traditional colonoscopy include perforation of the intestinal lining and incomplete viewing or blind spots. And the disadvantages include the costs of a procedure that includes sedation, the discomfort of bowel preparations, and imperfect detection.
Imagine now… a colonoscopy pill! One such colon imaging device or endoscopy capsule, called an “Ingestible device platform for the colon”, is the invention recited in US Patent Application 2005/0266074 A1, filed by Spectrum Dynamcs, Inc. The colonoscopy pill or capsule endoscopy is less invasive, even if it still requires bowel preparation.
Below, the abstract of the patent and the patent drawing of the expanding and contracting pill, are included.
 Abstract 2005/0266074 A1 Ingestible device platform for the colon
An ingestible pill platform for colon imaging is provided, designed to recognize its entry to the colon and expand in the colon, for improved imaging of the colon walls. On approaching the external anal sphincter muscle, the ingestible pill may contract or deform, for elimination. Colon recognition may be based on a structural image, based on the differences in diameters between the small intestine and the colon, and particularly, based on the semilunar fold structure, which is unique to the colon. Additionally or alternatively, colon recognition may be based on a functional image, based on the generally inflammatory state of the vermiform appendix. Additionally or alternatively, pH, flora, enzymes and (or) chemical analyses may be used to recognize the colon.; The imaging of the colon walls may be functional, by nuclear-radiation imaging of radionuclide-labeled antibodies, or by optical-fluorescence-spectroscopy imaging of fluorescence-labeled antibodies. Additionally or alternatively, it may be structural, for example, by visual, ultrasound or MRI means. Due to the proximity to the colon walls, the imaging in accordance with the present invention is advantageous to colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy, as it is designed to distinguish malignant from benign tumors and detect tumors even at their incipient stage, and overcome blood-pool background radioactivity
In practice, however, research is inconclusive on the advantages of capsule endoscopy, as the capsule does not seem to pick up on adenomas as well as more conventional methods of endoscopy, and most importantly the time involved to interpret and analyze the images taken by the pill platform is far greater (Ussui,, 2012). Pill colonoscopy also does not enable concomitant therapeutic intervention, or local cleansing for better visualization.
CDC - Colorectal Cancer Screening guidelines
Ussui, V. M (2012) Advances in colonoscopy. Discov Med13(71):313-321, April 2012.

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