A capsule endoscopy lets your doctor see and evaluate the inside wall of the small intestine. During a capsule endoscopy, you will swallow a capsule or pill that contains a tiny wireless video camera. As the capsule moves naturally through your digestive tract, the video camera takes thousands of pictures.
These images are transmitted to a recorder on you wear on your waist for about eight hours. At the end of the procedure, you will excrete the camera and return it to the doctor’s office. Your doctor will remove the data recorder and evaluate the images of your small intestine on a computer.
Gastroenterologists use this procedure to find sources of bleeding in the small intestines and to detect diseases such as Crohn's disease and cancer. Other organs such as the stomach and colon can be easily examined using traditional endoscopy.
Before a Capsule Endoscopy
Your doctor may ask you to cleanse your bowel before the procedure, and will give you specific instructions about this.
Tell your doctor the following things before the procedure:
- If you are using a defibrillator or pacemaker
- If you have had abdominal surgery
- If you have a history of bowel obstructions, adhesions, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- If you have allergies to any medicines
- If you have medical conditions such as swallowing difficulties, heart disease or lung disease
- If you are taking any vitamins or medicines, especially iron, aspirin, bismuth salicylate products and over-the-counter medicines
Just before the procedure, a sensor will be applied to the skin on your abdomen. You will also wear a data recorder on your waist that will capture images from the endoscope.
During a Capsule Endoscopy
Most patients are comfortable during the procedure and experience no pain. During the procedure, you need to avoid doing strenuous physical exercise, including jumping or running.
Possible Complications of a Capsule Endoscopy
The capsule could get stuck in the intestine at some point, causing a bowel obstruction. This is more likely to occur if there’s a narrowing of the intestine due to previous surgery, a tumor or inflammation.
If you have a fever, difficulty swallowing or pain in your chest after the procedure, let your doctor know immediately.