Two recent studies evaluate the use of a novel ingestable camera to diagnose upper gastrointestinal bleeding in emergency department patients.
The potential advantages of video capsule endoscopy over traditional endoscopy could include immediate availability, avoidance of sedation, patient tolerance, and the ability to rule out active bleeding in the emergency department.
The device used was the PillCam ESO2 – shown here in this animation:
Further research is needed. These small interesting studies demonstrate the potential for this imaging technology to be used in stable patients presenting to emergency departments. Since it can only diagnose rather than treat, it would not appear to have any role in unstable patients.
Video capsule endoscopy in the emergency department: a prospective study of acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Apr;61(4):438-443
STUDY OBJECTIVE: Video capsule endoscopy has been used to diagnose gastrointestinal hemorrhage and other small bowel diseases but has not been tested in an emergency department (ED) setting. The objectives in this pilot study are to demonstrate the ability of emergency physicians to detect blood in the upper gastrointestinal tract with capsule endoscopy after a short training period, measure ED patient acceptance of capsule endoscopy, and estimate the test characteristics of capsule endoscopy to detect acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
METHODS: During a 6-month period at a single academic hospital, eligible patients underwent video capsule endoscopy (Pillcam Eso2; Given Imaging) in the ED. Video images were reviewed by 4 blinded physicians (2 emergency physicians with brief training in capsule endoscopy interpretation and 2 gastroenterologists with capsule endoscopy experience).
RESULTS: A total of 25 subjects with acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage were enrolled. There was excellent agreement between gastroenterologists and emergency physicians for the presence of fresh or coffee-ground blood (0.96 overall agreement; κ=0.90). Capsule endoscopy was well tolerated by 96% of patients and showed an 88% sensitivity (95% confidence interval 65% to 100%) and 64% specificity (95% confidence interval 35% to 92%) for the detection of fresh blood. Capsule endoscopy missed 1 bleeding lesion located in the postpyloric region, which was not imaged because of expired battery life.
CONCLUSION: Video capsule endoscopy is a sensitive way to identify upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage in the ED. It is well tolerated and there is excellent agreement in interpretation between gastroenterologists and emergency physicians.
Capsule endoscopy in acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage: a prospective cohort study
Endoscopy. 2013 Jan;45(1):12-9
BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: Capsule endoscopy may play a role in the evaluation of patients presenting with acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage in the emergency department.
METHODS: We evaluated adults with acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage presenting to the emergency departments of two academic centers. Patients ingested a wireless video capsule, which was followed immediately by a nasogastric tube aspiration and later by esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). We compared capsule endoscopy with nasogastric tube aspiration for determination of the presence of blood, and with EGD for discrimination of the source of bleeding, identification of peptic/inflammatory lesions, safety, and patient satisfaction.
RESULTS:The study enrolled 49 patients (32 men, 17 women; mean age 58.3 ± 19 years), but three patients did not complete the capsule endoscopy and five were intolerant of the nasogastric tube. Blood was detected in the upper gastrointestinal tract significantly more often by capsule endoscopy (15 /18 [83.3 %]) than by nasogastric tube aspiration (6 /18 [33.3 %]; P = 0.035). There was no significant difference in the identification of peptic/inflammatory lesions between capsule endoscopy (27 /40 [67.5 %]) and EGD (35 /40 [87.5 %]; P = 0.10, OR 0.39 95 %CI 0.11 - 1.15). Capsule endoscopy reached the duodenum in 45 /46 patients (98 %). One patient (2.2 %) had self-limited shortness of breath and one (2.2 %) had coughing on capsule ingestion.
CONCLUSION:In an emergency department setting, capsule endoscopy appears feasible and safe in people presenting with acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Capsule endoscopy identifies gross blood in the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the duodenum, significantly more often than nasogastric tube aspiration and identifies inflammatory lesions, as well as EGD. Capsule endoscopy may facilitate patient triage and earlier endoscopy, but should not be considered a substitute for EGD.