What is a Capsule Endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a procedure designed to help your physician see what is happening inside parts of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is the tube that extends from the mouth to the anus in which the movement of muscles digests food. During the procedure, a patient swallows a vitamin-sized pill with a camera inside (pill camera). Transported smoothly and painlessly through the GI tract by the body’s own natural peristalsis, the video pill capsule transmits images of different parts of your intestine such as the small intestine and the esophagus.
Why is a Capsule Endoscopy done?
Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate the small intestine. This part of the bowel cannot be reached by traditional upper endoscopy or by a colonoscopy. The most common reason 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 (Crohn’s disease), ulcers, and tumors of the small intestine. Capsule endoscopy is the least invasive and most direct way for doctors to see the entirety of the small intestine.
How should I Prepare for the Procedure?
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least 12 hours prior to the procedure
- You will need to discuss medical information with the doctor including previous surgeries or bowel disease, medical history, and any prescription (including over-the-counter).
- For more specific instructions, talk with your doctor
How is Capsule Endoscopy Performed?
You will first swallow a pill-sized camera that has its own lens and light source. The camera will pass along your GI tract and capture images, which will be transmitted to an external data recorder. You will then visit the doctor to review the images of your small intestine.
What are the Risks Associated with Capsule Endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a very safe and low-risk procedure. There is a small risk of the pill camera getting stuck in a narrowed spot in the digestive tract, which can be due to stricture (narrowing) caused by inflammation, surgery, scar tissue, or a tumor. The camera getting stuck can lead to a blockage in the intestines called bowel obstruction.