Capsule endoscopy lets your doctor see inside your esophagus or small intestine. It's easier than having a traditional upper endoscopy. Your doctor can tell you if capsule endoscopy is right for you.
During a capsule endoscopy, you swallow a capsule that contains a tiny camera. It takes thousands of pictures as it passes through your digestive system. Your doctor looks at the pictures to see what may be causing your gastrointestinal (GI) problem.
Our GI team members are experienced in capsule endoscopy.
Why it is Done
Doctors can have trouble reaching the small intestine with regular endoscopy and other tests. The capsule that you swallow makes it easier to see inside your small intestine.
You might have this test to check for diseases and conditions including:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea and other bowel problems
- Tumor, including cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Celiac disease
- A polyp syndrome
Your doctor might recommend capsule endoscopy if you have abdominal problems that can't be explained.
What to Expect
You will fast – not eat anything and only drink clear liquids – the day before capsule endoscopy. This helps make sure your digestive system is clear. You might be asked to not take certain medications before the test and to avoid intense activity afterward.
Your doctor places adhesive patches with electrodes on the skin of your abdomen. The electrodes have tiny antennae that send signals to a transmitter you wear around your waist. Thin wires connect the electrodes to the transmitter.
You swallow a capsule about the size of a large vitamin. It has a special coating to make it easier to swallow.
If You are Having Capsule Endoscopy to Check Your Esophagus:
You swallow the capsule while you are lying down. You are gradually raised to a sitting position over 20 minutes or so. The test is done, and you can go home. The capsule passes naturally in a bowel movement and can be flushed.
If Capsule Endoscopy is Used to Check Your Small Intestine:
You swallow the capsule and go home, wearing the transmitter around your waist. Your doctor tells you when to return the transmitter. Usually, this is the next day.
You cannot eat or drink for two to four hours after you swallow the capsule. After two hours, you can drink water. After four hours, you can eat a light snack. You should avoid intense activity for the day.
You'll see the capsule after it passes through your body in a bowel movement. It can be safely flushed down the toilet. This usually takes a day or two.
Your doctor connects the transmitter to a computer and looks at video images of your digestive system to check for problems.
Small Bowel Enteroscopy
If your doctor finds an abnormality from the results of your capsule endoscopy, you may need to have small bowel enteroscopy. Depending on the situation, the procedure could also incorporate a single balloon endoscopy or double balloon endoscopy. This procedure allows your doctor to see your entire small bowel, take tissue samples for biopsy, remove polyps and use electrocautheterization (heat) to treat abnormal tissue.
Your doctor inserts a tube in your throat or in your rectum and inflates a balloon through the tube to provide a more clear picture of and access to your lower digestive tract. If the tube is inserted in your rectum, the procedure is similar to a colonoscopy.
What the Risks Are
Capsule endoscopy is safe for most people who can swallow the capsule. The capsule passes through your digestive system and exits your body through a bowel movement.
Rarely, the capsule can get stuck in the digestive system. This risk is greater for people who have a bowel disorder. Even if the capsule does get stuck, it usually doesn't cause problems.