Small But Mighty
This small capsule is used to examine bleeding or other ailments in the small intestine.
What Is a Capsule Camera Endoscopy?
Sometimes, despite undergoing a colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy to evaluate your lower and upper digestive tract, the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms still isn’t clear. In these cases, the problem may originate within the small intestine.
A capsule endoscopy is a relatively easy, minimally invasive method to look for bleeding or other signs that may indicate a problem in the small intestine. During this procedure, the patient swallows a vitamin-size capsule containing a tiny video camera, which sends data to a recording device worn by the patient. After the capsule finishes its journey through the small intestine, it passes harmlessly out of the body in a bowel movement, usually within a day or two. The recorded data is then transferred to a computer, where the doctor can review and assess it.
What is a Capsule Endoscopy Used For?
Your doctor may recommend a capsule endoscopy to help diagnose or treat the following conditions:
- Obscure GI bleeding – the data recorded may help identify its cause
- Inflammatory bowel diseases – areas of inflammation may help your doctor diagnose Crohn’s disease or another type of IBD
- Tumors – these may be causing bleeding
- Celiac disease – intestinal changes associated with celiac disease may be noted
- Polyps – these can develop in the small intestine for those who have inherited polyposis syndromes
How Do I Prepare for My Procedure?
To prepare for a capsule endoscopy, your doctor might ask you to limit your diet. For part or all of 24 hours prior to the procedure, you will most likely be asked to drink only clear liquids. Sometimes, the evening before the procedure, taking a laxative to flush out the bile and mucus in the small intestine may be required. In addition, the morning of procedure, you will be asked to fast to ensure the camera captures clear and accurate images on its journey through the small intestine. Your doctor may also ask you to stop or delay taking certain medicines, so they do not interfere with the procedure. Only light exercise should be done the day prior to the exam. On the day of the exam, you will need to avoid exercise. Your usual diet may resume a couple hours after the capsule is swallowed and the exam begins. Normal activity can occur the day after the capsule exam. Capsule endoscopies are begun in your doctor’s office.
What Can I Expect After My Procedure?
At the end of the procedure, you will return to your doctor’s office, and the data recorder will be detached, so images of your small intestine can be put on a computer screen for physician review. It takes approximately 8 hours for the camera to record your small intestine.
The exam starts with a short visit to the doctor’s office in the early morning, and late in the day, you return to the office to turn in the vest recorder. To make sure the recorder is continuously working during your time out of the doctor’s office, check for a small blinking light. You should feel no side effects as a result of a capsule endoscopy.
When Will I Know the Outcome of the Capsule Endoscopy?
Your physician will review and interpret the video images and prepare a report. Usually, this is done within a few days, and you will receive a call or be able to get the report from our patient portal. Results are sent to other physicians who may be treating you. Still photos of any abnormal findings are part of the report, and the original video is stored on a computer.
What Are the Risks Involved With the Procedure?
Overall, patients find the test comfortable. Very seldom, a person may not be able to swallow the capsule. If you have trouble swallowing vitamins or other moderately sized capsules, tell our staff beforehand. Complications are rare when specially trained GI providers perform the procedure. A potential risk is that the capsule stops moving through the GI tract. This may indicate a narrowed passageway or blockage. Testing for this may be done ahead of time. If you experience any significant abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, notify your doctor without delay.
What Are My Alternatives to the Capsule Endoscopy?
A capsule endoscopy is usually used when other methods have failed to identify the source of a patient’s symptoms. An alternative to a capsule endoscopy is what is called a deep enteroscopy, which involves passing a very long endoscope into the small intestine. However, this is a more invasive procedure and consequently carries greater risks.
Are you interested in a capsule endoscopy? Ask your physician about it at the location nearest you.