A sick dog in Arlington, Texas was helped by a tiny capsule containing four cameras that filmed his digestive tract as it passed through. This state-of-the-art technology saved Sparky’s life and manufacturers are hoping it will be in the hands of veterinarians around the world in the near future.
Sparky’s family took him to the emergency veterinary clinic when he began vomiting uncontrollably, but x-rays and blood work both showed nothing. They took him home assuming it would pass on its own, but days later it started again. Sometimes the toughest part of trying to keep your dog healthy is that they can't tell you exactly what is wrong.
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This time they took him in to his regular veterinarian who still couldn’t track down the problem. Their recommendation was to put Sparky under anesthesia and perform an endoscopy, which is a tube with a camera on the end that is pushed through the digestive tract.
The capsule, called ALICAM, was chosen as an alternative measure. Sparky swallowed the capsule and as it worked its way through his GI system it recorded everything. The four tiny cameras all film at once, showing the veterinarians a 360 degree view of the entire journey.
The device has lights along with the cameras and runs on a battery. It is able to film up to 18 hours of video. Devices similar to this have been being used in humans for years, but this technology was just introduced in canine medical care within the last few months.
Not only is the procedure much less invasive than an endoscopy, it also saves the owner a lot of money. There is no longer a need for anesthesia or an overnight stay. There is also no risk to the dog at all, however an endoscopy could cause internal damage and is a very uncomfortable procedure.
Similarly, endoscopies require a tube that can only be maneuvered through the first part of the digestive tract. The ALICAM capsule goes through the entire system and comes out the other end. The images that are captured by the cameras can help veterinarians find lesions, tumors, sources of internal bleeding, or any other gastrointestinal health issues.
Replacing more invasive procedures with the swallowing of a pill could completely change the way veterinarians and other canine health specialists do their job. This capsule provides more information, cuts costs, and is safer for the canine.
Thankfully, Sparky was only diagnosed with mild inflammation in his GI tract and was treated with simple oral medication. His family was happy to see him running and playing again.