Mini-Cams Open a New Window on Childhood GI Care

Stephen Nanton, MD

Stephen Nanton, MD

Gastrointestinal issues in children present unusual challenges for both patients and doctors. With the help of their parents, kids must change their lifestyle substantially, especially when it comes to diet. For health care providers, finding the best treatment for each patient can be a difficult process of trial and error. However, the lens of a tiny camera may have opened a new window on this problem.

Stephen Nanton, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterologist, and Joelle Roskens, RN, with Avera Medical Group Pediatric Specialists Sioux Falls presented exciting new data at Digestive Disease Week® 2014, the world’s largest gathering of physicians and researchers in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Here’s a brief recap of what they shared with their colleagues.

Two serious GI ailments often seen are celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Celiac is the most common genetically related food intolerance in the world. These patients cannot tolerate gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. In the case of Crohn’s, 1.4 million Americans suffer from this disease, which is inflammation of part of the GI tract. Up to 30 percent of adult Crohn’s patients are diagnosed when they are younger than 20.

Current tools, such as MRIs and endoscopes (a tube with a light and video camera inserted through the mouth), can be somewhat limited. “MRIs can only give us a partial picture of what’s going on. Traditional endoscopes do not allow doctors to see the entire intestine, because these scopes are not long or flexible enough to reach and navigate the small intestine, which is 20 feet of twists and turns,” Dr. Nanton said.

Dr. Nanton and his team are testing the use of video capsule endoscopes (VCE), capsules that are approximately two centimeters in length and one centimeter in diameter.

By recording video from inside the GI tract, these capsules can provide a more complete picture of what’s happening. The team performed 504 VCEs on a study group of 426 children.

In the interest of patient safety, Dr. Nanton needed to make sure that the capsule did not become stuck in a child’s body. To do so, he took preventive measures in patients who were at risk because of the narrowness of openings in their GI tracts — mainly patients with Crohn’s disease or history of vomiting. These patients were given a dissolvable capsule to ensure it would pass through. In the study, they all passed this test, with no incidences of capsules getting stuck.

“Also in our study, we found that VCE gave us more confidence in diagnosing our patients and tailoring our approach to treating each individual,” Dr. Nanton said.

The success of this study provides good reason to expand this investigative work to involve a larger group of pediatric patients. “This will allow us to confirm VCE’s potential as a diagnostic tool in delivering the best possible care for children,” Dr. Nanton said.

Dr. Nanton and Joelle Roskens are working hard to bring cutting-edge technology to Avera’s patients. This will lead to easier diagnosing of gastrointestinal problems in kids. This means treatment and disease management can begin earlier, leading to a happier and healthier childhood. To find out more information on this topic visit Avera’s health library.

By Jana Olson

Marketing Specialist at Avera Health

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