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Capsule Endoscopy

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy is a procedure that examines the small bowel part of your gastrointestinal tract. Typically, most upper endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures do not examine the small intestine.  A small camera in a capsule about the size of a vitamin pill is swallowed.  The capsule has a lens and light source, and images from the capsule are recorded and are viewed later on a video monitor.  Capsule Endoscopy is mainly performed to find if there is a bleeding area in the small bowel, but it is also used to evaluate for Crohn's disease, ulcers, tumors, polyps and other digestive problems.

Preparation For The Procedure

Tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker or history of a swallowing disorder, bowel obstruction, or inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Patients should not have anything to eat or drink after 10 p.m. the night before the scheduled Capsule Endoscopy. 
  • They will receive a prescription for a laxative to be taken the night before the test.
  • Most Capsule Endoscopy patients will be told to check in at 7 a.m. in the GI Lab on the 3rd floor of the hospital (using the "W" elevators is the easiest route).
  • You will be asked to complete a medical history form.

Capsule Endoscopy Procedure

A Capsule Endoscopy trained Registered Nurse will review your medical history with you.

  • You will be given a cup of water with simethicone in it to drink.  Simethicone eliminates gas bubbles allowing us to see the small intestine better.
  • Adhesive sensor devices are attached to your abdomen, and these are connected with wires to a battery pack and recording device.  These are put in a vest that is worn for the duration of the study.
  • You will be given a glass of water to swallow the capsule.
  • You will be given an instruction sheet that lets you know when you can eat, drink, and when you need to return to the GI Lab.          
    •  Typically, you will be asked to return at 3:30 pm the same day of the procedure .  
    •  You can drink clear liquids 2 hours after the capsule is swallowed.    
    •  You can have a light snack 4 hours after the capsule is swallowed.
    •  You can have clear liquids after the snack until the test is done.

NOTE: It is normal for the battery pack to feel warm.

  • When you return, the vest with the recording device, battery and adhesive devices are removed.


After Capsule Endoscopy  

A specially trained physician will review your Capsule Endoscopy examine.  You should receive a report in 1 - 2 weeks.  The capsule passes out with a bowel movement.  It is disposable, so do not retrieve it if you do see it.  Let your doctor know if you have any problems that may include pain, unusual bloating, vomiting, fever, chest pain or difficulty swallowing during or after the exam.  Patients who have this test are advised not to have an MRI within 30 days.

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