A capsule endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to view the inside of the GI tract – specifically the small intestine. Unlike traditional endoscopy procedures, capsule endoscopies are begun in a doctor’s office and carried out in the days that follow. During that time, a patient swallows a capsule that contains a tiny camera. The camera takes pictures as it travels through the digestive tract and transmits the images to a receiver worn on the outside of the body.
Did you know…
that until recent years, the small intestine was one of the most difficult organs to diagnose and treat without a major operation? Thanks to the capsule endoscopy, many patients enjoy diagnostic testing that is minimally invasive and non-disruptive to their lifestyle. In most cases, a capsule endoscopy is a safe and appropriate procedure for anyone who is capable of swallowing the capsule – including children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would my gastroenterologist recommend a capsule endoscopy?
A capsule endoscopy is useful in diagnosing disorders affecting the small intestine that are not perceptible using x-rays or other imaging scans. Your doctor may order a capsule endoscopy to aid in finding the source of unexplained symptoms, such as intestinal bleeding. You may also need a capsule endoscopy to diagnose or monitor the treatment of conditions like:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Celiac Disease
- Anemia and Intestinal Bleeding
What should I expect during a capsule endoscopy?
You will swallow a vitamin-sized capsule to begin the endoscopy. An antenna will be placed on the outside of your abdomen to record photos. Once you swallow the capsule containing the camera, you will be allowed to go about your usual business. However, you may be instructed to avoid repetitious motions or any movements that may disrupt the camera’s position within your body. Once the camera passes through the digestive tract – a process that can take several days in some people – the capsule can safely be flushed down the toilet and the external antenna returned to your GI doctor for evaluation.
Is a capsule endoscopy safe?
This diagnostic test is safe for most people who are capable of swallowing a capsule. The camera travels through the body incident-free in most cases, and it does not harm household plumbing once it has been expelled. Most people pass the camera within several days, though an x-ray can easily pinpoint the location of a capsule endoscope that is still inside the body.