US researchers using pigs have developed a sensor that is easy to swallow, which can provide a far less intrusive way to potentially diagnose digestive disorders.
The device, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and California Institute of Technology, both USA, uses magnetic fields to accurately detect the location of the sensor in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – the digestive passageway between the mouth and anus.
When the sensor, placed into a capsule, was given to pigs, the group found that its tracking was accurate to within five to ten millimetres inside the body.
This non-invasive approach could allow GI motility disorders - which are caused by food not properly moving through the GI tract - to be diagnosed without the need for invasive surgeries like endoscopies.
Giovanni Traverso, at MIT said: “Having the ability to monitor GI motility without having to go into a hospital is important to really understand what is happening to a patient.”