Magnetic pill tracking: a novel non-invasive tool for investigation of human digestive motility


Dr Pavel Kucera, Institut de Physiologie, Rue Bugnon 7, CH 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Tel: +41-21-6925523; fax: +41-21-6925505;


Abstract  A new minimally invasive technique allowing for anatomical mapping and motility studies along the entire human digestive system is presented. The technique is based on continuous tracking of a small magnet progressing through the digestive tract. The coordinates of the magnet are calculated from signals recorded by 16 magnetic field sensors located over the abdomen. The magnet position, orientation and trajectory are displayed in real time. Ten young healthy volunteers were followed during 34 h. The technique was well tolerated and no complication was encountered. The information obtained was 3-D configuration of the digestive tract and dynamics of the magnet displacement (velocity, transit time, length estimation, rhythms). In the same individual, repeated examination gave very reproducible results. The anatomical and physiological information obtained corresponded well to data from current methods and imaging. This simple, minimally invasive technique permits examination of the entire digestive tract and is suitable for both research and clinical studies. In combination with other methods, it may represent a useful tool for studies of GI motility with respect to normal and pathological conditions.