What You Need to Know About Capsule Endoscopies

Capsule endoscopy is a new diagnostic procedure that evaluates three portions of the small intestine including the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum-an area that isn't easily reached by more traditional endoscopy methods. The test enables doctors to check for the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding. It can also detectpolyps, inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease), celiac disease, ulcers, and tumors.

During the test, your doctor will give you a pill-size wireless camera to swallow. , The camera passes through your digestive tract and takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist.

To prepare for the test, your doctor may ask you to:

  • Stop eating and drinking for at least 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Stop taking certain medications. Before you take the test, tell your doctor about any medications you take.  You may have to adjust your usual dose prior to the examination.
  • Take it easy the day of the test. Although you will most likely be able to go about your normal routine after swallowing the capsule, you won't be allowed to do any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. If you have an active job, ask your doctor if you can go back to work the day of your procedure.
  • Take a laxative preparation prior to the test. The laxative preparation cleans out the small intestine to improve the quality of the pictures taken by the capsule's camera.

On the Day of Your Exam

Your doctor will apply a sensor device to your abdomen with several adhesive sleeves (similar to tape). The sleeves contain an antenna with wires that connect to a recorder worn around your waist. Once the adhesive sleeves are in place, you will be given a glass of water and instructions to swallow the camera capsule, which is about the size of a large vitamin tablet. Although you may initially feel the capsule as you swallow it, once it has passed beyond your throat, you won't feel it moving through your body.

The procedure is usually complete after eight hours or when your body expels the capsule, which can be flushed down the toilet. After the test is completed, you will return to your doctor so the data recorder can be removed and the images will be screened to detect any abnormalities in your digestive tract.


asge.org/patientinfoindex.aspx?id=390; mayoclinic.com/health/capsule-endoscopy/MY00139