A Vibrating Capsule Could Do What Laxatives Can't

The ingestible device contains a small engine and may prove beneficial for those who suffer from chronic constipation but have difficulty with conventional medications.

What's the Latest Development?

Newly presented yesterday (May 3) at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago: A capsule containing a small engine that begins to vibrate six to eight hours after it's swallowed. In a pilot study, test subjects who suffer from common forms of chronic constipation spent two weeks without laxatives, then began taking the capsule twice a week and completing a daily questionnaire. They reported having nearly double as many bowel movements with the capsule, a decrease in certain symptoms such as straining, and minimal side effects.

What's the Big Idea?

Chronic constipation affects close to 15 percent of Americans, and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center lead researcher Dr. Yishai Ron says that typical pharmacological treatments can bring more problems than solutions: "[N]early 50 percent of patients are unsatisfied...either because of side effects, safety concerns about long-term use, or the fact that it simply doesn't work." Because the vibrating capsule uses mechanics to stimulate the intestines to contract, the proposed treatment is merely "imitating the body's natural physiology." He and his team plan to conduct further studies to determine the capsule's potential.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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