Taking a look inside a horse’s intestinal tract may soon be as simple as getting him to swallow a tiny camera, waiting for it to pass through his digestive system and then downloading the images it captures along the way.
A study from the University of Calgary, in Canada, explored the feasibility of wireless capsule endoscopy in diagnosing ulcers, parasites and other digestive problems in horses. The capsule tested by the Calgary group uses four cameras and a LED light system to capture 360-degree images of its environment.
Images are stored on a built-in memory system, eliminating the need to restrict a horse’s movements to ensure proximity to an external sensor. In addition, the capsule goes into power-saving mode when it is not in motion, maximizing battery life.
For their study, the Calgary researchers used a nasogastric tube to insert capsule cameras into the stomach of five healthy horses who were each managed under one of three different protocols: fasting, receiving oral fluid or undergoing an exercise regimen. Of the 15 capsules inserted, 12 were recovered in the horses’ manure after an average of 6.5 days.
The researchers report that the images captured by capsule cameras were clear and useful, showing all major structures along with evidence of problems such as mucosal erosion(ulcers) and parasites.
Reference: “A wireless endoscopy capsule suitable for imaging of the equine stomach and small intestine,” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, June 2020