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A somersaulting, picture-taking pill

The wireless capsule used by Rothstein.

With the help of colleagues, DHMC gastroenterologist Richard Rothstein has developed a new tool to improve the diagnosis of gastrointestinal problems. Wireless capsules that can take photos of a patient's esophagus and stomach are already in use, but to improve this design, Rothstein added a magnet to a typical wireless capsule so that the capsule could be manipulated inside a patient. To test the magnet-controlled capsule, a volunteer swallowed the capsule; Rothstein then used a handheld magnet to maneuver the capsule, making it rotate and do somersaults to get photos of different sides of the esophagus and stomach. Compared to typical capsules, which move through the body without stopping, the new capsule should work better as a diagnostic tool—locating a bleeding site or confirming Crohn's disease, for example. In the brief video below, the magnet-controlled capsule moves through the volunteer's esophagus controlled by Rothstein. The use of the magnet allows Rothstein to slow the capsule's rate of passage, change its orientation, and even reverse its direction. The video was taken by a gastroscope.

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