Capsule Endoscopy

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy allows your doctor to superficially examine the lining of the esophagus, the stomach and the small intestine, which includes the three key portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum). Your physician will use a small pill that you ingest. The pill has its own lens and light source and will transmit images to a video monitor for the physician to review. You may hear your physician refer to capsule endoscopy as small bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy or wireless endoscopy. Capsule endoscopy is performed to reach the portion of the bowel that cannot be analyzed by traditional upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. The most common cause for doing capsule endoscopy is to search for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It may also be useful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers and tumors of the small intestine.

What Preparation is Required for the Procedure?

Your stomach must be empty for the procedure to be accurate. To prepare for the procedure, you should have nothing to eat or drink (including water for at least 12 hours prior to the procedure). Your physician will tell you when to start fasting. Inform your doctor in advance about any medications you take including iron, aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate products and other over-the-counter medications. Discuss any allergies you may have to medications, as well as swallowing disorders and heart or lung disease. Alert your physician to the presence of a pacemaker, previous abdominal surgery, or previous history of obstructions in the bowel, inflammatory bowel disease or adhesions. It is important that you follow your physician’s instructions very carefully.

What Can I Expect During Capsule Endoscopy?

Your physician will prepare you for the procedure by applying a sensor device to your abdomen. The capsule endoscope is about the size of a large pill. You will swallow the capsule endoscope and it will pass naturally through your digestive tract. The capsule will then transmit images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. After ingesting the capsule and until it is excreted, you should not be near a MRI device or schedule a MRI examination. In addition, during the study, you should avoid strenuous physical activity including running and jumping. Be sure to not prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in the loss of image acquisition. At the end of the procedure, you will return to the office and the data recorder will be removed. The physician will transfer the images to a video monitor and evaluate your small bowel.

What Happens After Capsule Endoscopy?

Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, you should be able to drink clear liquids two hours after ingestion of the capsule endoscope and eat a light meal fours hours after ingestion. Your physician can generally evaluate the images and follow-up with you regarding the procedure within a week of its’ completion. However, the results of some tests may take slightly longer.

What are Possible Complications of Capsule Endoscopy?

Although complications can occur, they are rare and normally minor. Potential risks include complications from obstruction. This is usually due to a narrowing of the intestine due to inflammation, prior surgery or a tumor. It is important to recognize the early signs of complications. If you have unusual bloating, pain and/or vomiting, call your physician immediately. Also inform your doctor if you develop a fever, experience chest pain or have difficulty swallowing.


Important Information: The information included on this sheet is intended only to provide general guidance and not as a definitive basis for diagnosis or treatment in any instance. It is extremely important that you consult a physician about your specific condition.

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