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Novel Vibrating Capsule Promises to Cure Chronic Constipation

First Posted: May 05, 2014 05:57 AM EDT
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A new oral vibrating capsule promises to cure constipation and also doubles the weekly bowel movements among those suffering from chronic constipation.

In a breakthrough finding, researchers have come up with an alternative and non-pharmacological therapy to treat chronic constipation. They have developed a new oral capsule that vibrates as it moves through the digestive tract. The capsule has a small engine inside that is programmed to vibrate six-eight hours after being swallowed.  It is these vibrations that trigger contraction in the intestine and help in pushing the stools through the digestive tract.

A pilot study conducted also showed that the new vibrating capsule doubles the weekly bowel movement in the patients with chronic constipation and also among those with constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (C-IBS).

"Despite the widespread use of medication to treat constipation, nearly 50 percent of patients are unsatisfied with the treatment either because of side effects, safety concerns about long-term use, or the fact that it simply doesn't work," said Yishai Ron, MD, lead researcher for the study and director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center's Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

To test the effectiveness of the oral pill, researchers conducted a study on 26 patients. They  were given the vibrating capsule twice per week and were made to answer a questionnaire on their  daily bowel movement and laxative use.

After this all the participants underwent a two-week preliminary period in which they had to completely abstain from use of laxatives.

The participants reported a rise in spontaneous bowel movement from two to four times per week. They also experienced a drop in the constipation symptoms including reduced difficulty in passing stools and incomplete evacuation.  The good news is that the pill produces minimal side effects.

"Sometimes, drug therapies bring more issues than relief for these patients," Dr. Ron said. "The results of this study point to the potential for an alternative treatment that avoids the typical drug side effects, such as bloating and electrolyte imbalance, by imitating the body's natural physiology."

Chronic constipation is known to be a highly prevalent disorder that affects nearly 15 percent of the U.S. citizens.  Each year this disorder leads to 2.5 million doctor visits and medication costs also add up to millions of dollars. Chronic constipation is known to cause bloating, headaches, irritable and infrequent bowel movements for weeks at time.

Next, the team plans to conduct a controlled and double blind study to expand on the findings and explore in-depth the potential of the vibrating capsule.

The study was titled "Vibrating Capsule for the Treatment of Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) and Constipation Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (C-IBS) - Safety and Efficacy," and was presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).

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