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A pill camera is a piece of equipment used for a procedure known as capsule endoscopy. It was developed in the late 20th century and was approved for use by the FDA in 2001.
The camera is about 1 inch long and one-half inch in diameter, with rounded edges making it shaped like a drug capsule (although slightly larger). It is comprised of a camera, flash, plastic capsule, and transmitter (at present, usually Bluetooth (TM)). It is small enough to be swallowed.
The pill camera is most often used when a disease of the small intestine is suspected. The upper digestive tract can usually be examined with an endoscope, and for problems with the large intestine a colonoscopy is preferred. However, neither of those two procedures allow examination of the small intestine. In addition the pill camera is minimally invasive. However, unlike endoscopy and colonoscopy, a pill camera cannot be used to treat a pathology.