Capsule Endoscopy (also known as video capsule endoscopy)
What is capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a test done to allow your doctor to better evaluate the small intestine. The test entails having to swallow a capsule sized camera. The camera has a light source and takes thousands of pictures of your small intestine as it passes through. The pictures are sent to a small recording device that you will wear around your waist (like a belt) on the day of the test. When you return the recording device to your doctor’s office, the pictures will be viewed and evaluated by your doctor.
Why is capsule endoscopy done?
Capsule endoscopy is done to evaluate the small intestine. Because the small intestine is so long, most of the small intestine cannot be reached by an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. The most common reason for doing a capsule endoscopy is to look for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It also may be useful for evaluating Crohn’s disease, detecting polyps, tumors, or ulcers in the small intestine.
How do I prepare for a capsule endoscopy?
You will be provided with specific instructions by your doctor’s office. You will need to be on a clear liquid diet after lunch of the day prior to the test. You will also have to take an over-the-counter laxative the afternoon before the test. Written instructions will be provided to you with the exact details of the preparation. Please tell your doctor of all your medications, including over-the-counter medications. You may have to adjust some of the dosages of your medications. You should discuss any allergies, swallowing disorders, heart disorders, or lung disease with your doctor. Tell you doctor if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator. Also inform your doctor of any prior abdominal or pelvic surgery, previous history of bowel obstructions, or history of inflammatory bowel disease.
What can I expect during the capsule endoscopy?
You will have a sensor device attached to you abdomen and a recording device that is connected to a belt that you will wear the day of the test. This will all be provided at the office on the morning of the test. After swallowing the capsule, you will not be able to eat or drink for 2 hours. After 2 hours, you will be able to have clear liquids. After 4 hours, you will be able to have full liquids (shakes, cream based soup, ice cream, etc). Detailed information will also be provided at your doctor’s office. You will wear the external recording device and sensors for approximately 8 hours and return them to the office at the end of the work day. The capsule will pass naturally through your system and does not need to be collected or returned.
What are the possible complications of capsule endoscopy?
Complications from this test are rare. There is a possibility that the capsule could get stuck if there is a narrowed part of the GI tract. This is very rare. It is usually related to a narrowing from inflammation, prior surgery, or tumor. It is important to recognize an obstruction early. Signs of obstruction include abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. You should call your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms after swallowing the capsule. Also notify your doctor if you develop a fever or trouble swallowing after taking the capsule.
*If the capsule is retained for a prolonged period of time and does not spontaneously pass, it would need to be removed surgically.