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capsule endoscopy

overview

During a capsule endoscopy, you will swallow a capsule which contains a tiny camera that takes thousands of pictures as it passes through the digestive system. Your doctor then looks at the pictures to see what may be causing gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

A capsule endoscopy can check for diseases and conditions including:

what to expect

If you require a capsule endoscopy, you’ll be asked not to eat anything and to drink only clear liquids the day before. This helps make sure your digestive system is clear. You might be asked not to take certain medications before the test and to avoid intense activity afterward.

During the procedure, your doctor places adhesive patches with electrodes on the skin of your abdomen. The electrodes send signals to a transmitter worn around your waist. Thin wires connect the electrodes to the transmitter. You swallow a capsule about the size of a large vitamin, which is specially coated so it’s easier to swallow.

If you’re having capsule endoscopy to check your esophagus, you’ll swallow the capsule while lying down. You’ll be gradually raised to a sitting position over 20 minutes or so. Then the test is done and you can go home. 

If you’re having capsule endoscopy to check your small intestine, you’ll swallow the capsule and go home, wearing the transmitter around your waist. Usually, you’ll return the next day. Your doctor connects the transmitter to a computer and looks at video images of your digestive system to check for problems.

recovery

You cannot eat or drink for 2 to 4 hours after swallowing the capsule. After 2 hours, you can drink water. After 4 hours, you can eat a light snack. You should avoid intense activity for the day. In a day or so, the capsule will leave your body when you go to the bathroom. You’ll be able to see it, and it can be flushed safely.

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