Capsule Endoscopy (also called capsule enteroscopy, or wireless capsule endoscopy) allows examination of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). The examination is carried out by a pill-sized camera which you swallow. This camera has its own light source and takes a large number of pictures of your small intestine as it passes through. These pictures are sent to a small recording device which you wear on your body. These pictures are reviewed at a later time to help provide you with useful information regarding your small intestine.
Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate the small intestine. This part of the bowel cannot be easily reached by traditional endoscopy techniques. The most common reason for doing capsule endoscopy is to search for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It may also be useful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease), ulcers, and tumours of the small intestine.
An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately twelve hours before the examination. Your doctor will tell you when to start fasting.
Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take including iron, aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate products and other over-the-counter medications. You might need to adjust your usual dose prior to the examination.
Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as swallowing disorders and heart or lung disease.
Tell your doctor of the presence of a pacemaker or defibrillator, previous abdominal surgery, or previous history of bowel obstructions in the bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, or adhesions.
Your doctor may ask you to do a bowel prep/cleansing prior to the examination.
Preparation for the examination involves applying a sensor device to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves (similar to tape). The pill-sized capsule endoscope is swallowed and passes naturally through your digestive system while transmitting images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. At the end of the procedure the data recorder is removed so that images of your small bowel can be uploaded to a computer for review.
Most patients consider the test very comfortable. The capsule endoscope is about the size of a large pill. After ingesting the capsule and until it is passed from you bowel you should not have an MRI examination.
You will be able to drink clear liquids after two hours and eat a light meal after four hours following the capsule ingestion, unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. You will have to avoid vigorous physical activity such as running or jumping during the study. Your doctor generally can tell you the test results within the week following the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take longer.
Although complications can occur, they are rare when doctors who are specially trained and experienced in this procedure perform the test. There is potential for the capsule to get stuck at a narrowed part of the digestive tract. This usually relates to a stricture (narrowing) of the digestive tract from inflammation, prior surgery, or a tumour. It's important to recognize signs of obstruction early, including unusual bloating, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. You should make contact without delay if this happens. Also, if you develop a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing or experience chest pain, tell your doctor immediately. Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in loss of pictures being sent to your recording device.