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How effective/accurate is wireless endoscopy (pill camera) for diagnosing Crohn's disease?

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They're successful about two thirds of the time, which is better than other techniques.

In general, success rates of diagnosis using wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE) range from ~61%-71%, but hover around ~66%. Triester et al. (2006) wrote a meta study comparing detection rates using WCE with rates from other methods, including

  • barium radiography
  • ileoscopy
  • computer tomography enterography/enteroclysis
  • small bowel MRI

In all cases, WCE proved superior to other technologies, often by a significant amount.

Hara et al. (2006) also compared techniques, finding a 71% success rate for WCE, a 65% success rate for ileoscopy, a 53% success rate for CT enterography, and a 24% success rate for small bowel follow through methods. In this case, the margin of difference of success rate was much smaller.

Voderholzer et al. (2003) did a general study on several related diseases and found a pathological lesion detection rate of 59%. However, the threshold for the number and type of lesions to qualify as Crohn's disease is often subjective, and this is not necessarily indicative of diagnosis rates.

The bottom line, though, is that WCE is pretty effective, especially compared to other methods.

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