New wireless imaging test identified the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding in majority of patients

May 20, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (May 20, 2002, 8:00 a.m, PST) Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center report that a new imaging test identified the cause of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in the majority of patients unable to be diagnosed with conventional imaging methods. The test involves swallowing a tiny camera-in-a-capsule that takes constant color pictures as it passes through the GI tract. The findings, presented at the annual meeting of Digestive Disease Week 2002 in San Francisco, may enable physicians to diagnose and treat the cause of GI bleeding at the outset of patients' symptoms.

"We found the cause of bleeding in the majority of our difficult-to-diagnose patients, enabling us to offer more effective treatment options sooner rather than later," said Simon K. Lo, the lead investigator of the study and Director of the Interventional Endoscopy program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

GI bleeds can occur due to ulcers, broken blood vessels, tumors, and diseases of the small intestine such as Crohn's disease. However, conventional imaging tests often fail to find the source of the bleed because they cannot extend throughout the length of the entire small intestine. For example, upper endoscopic procedures can only visualize about the first third of the small intestine - an organ which is 15-20 feet long - while colonoscopy can only see the last three or four feet. The video capsule (produced by Given Imaging, Ltd.), on the other hand, was engineered to view most of the GI tract via a wireless endoscopic approach. About the size of a large megavitamin, the capsule contains a camera, light source, radio transmitter and battery and works by transmitting pictures of the small intestine to a wireless recorder that the patient wears on a belt. Patients swallow the capsule in the morning and the images are downloaded to a computer where they can be read six to eight hours later.

In the study, the investigators examined the imaging studies of 37 patients with undiagnosed GI bleeding who had undergone an imaging test with the video capsule. Of these, the investigators identified the likely source of bleeding in 28 patients (76 percent) with conditions not previously diagnosed with conventional tests. Further, many of these patients (43 percent) were found to have active bleeding in the small intestine regardless of whether their symptoms indicated it.

"We found that wireless endoscopy can be used to identify the source of bleeding even in patients who have undergone multiple prior imaging tests and whose symptoms aren't indicative of an active bleed," said Dr. Lo. "This means that patients may ultimately be able to benefit from treatment before they experience a worsening of their symptoms."
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest non-profit academic medical centers in the Western United States. For the fifth straight two-year period, Cedars-Sinai has been named Southern California's gold standard in health care in an independent survey. Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programs and services, as well as breakthrough biomedical research and superlative medical education. Named among the 100 "Most Wired" hospitals in health care in 2001, the Medical Center ranks among the top seven non-university hospitals in the nation for its research activities.

For media information and to arrange interviews, please contact Kelli Stauning at 310-423-3674/310-423-4767 or via e-mail at

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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