Capsule Endoscopy

What is capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. It is used to assess parts of the digestive tracts that are not readily accessible by other endoscopic procedures. You will swallow a vitamin size capsule that contains the camera. As the capsule advances through your digestive tract it will take pictures that are wirelessly transmitted to a recording device.

What is it used for?

A capsule endoscopy is an effective way to diagnose a variety of disorders:

  • Identify the cause of unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Diagnose inflammatory diseases including Crohn’s disease
  • Follow up testing after inconclusive imaging tests
  • Diagnose tumors of the small bowel

Before the procedure

For the test to be effective, the colon must be empty and clean. Rather than giving an incomplete and poor examination, your procedure will need to be rescheduled if the prep was not fully completed.

You will take a prescription bowel cleanse to clean out your colon the day before the test. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the doctor’s office and inform your doctor of any medications that you are currently taking. Some medications may be adjusted prior to the procedure.

The medical team will set up the wireless recorder on a belt around your waist and place sensors on your chest and abdomen. The images are sent to the sensors which the recorder will collect and store.

During the procedure

You will swallow the camera with water. The camera is the size of a vitamin pill. Since there is no sedation with this procedure you will be able to go about your normal daily activities. Avoid any strenuous physical activity. Depending on your job you may be able to go back to work. You will be able to resume drinking clear liquids two hours after swallowing the capsule.

Capsule endoscopies last approximately eight hours. Do not disconnect the equipment or remove the belt at any time during this period.

After the procedure

You will be instructed by the testing site when to return the equipment. The equipment will be removed by the staff and a gastroenterologist will interpret the data. Typically the capsule will pass in a natural bowel movement. If you did not positively verify the excretion of the capsule and develop unexplained nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting, contact our office for evaluation and possible x-ray.

Your doctor will review the images from the recording device. It will take several days to receive the results and they will be shared with you one available.

Is the procedure safe?

Any procedure carries a small amount of risk and potential complications. These risks will be discussed with you in detail prior to the procedure and before the patient provides consent. It is possible for the capsule to get stuck in your digestive tract. The risk is higher in patients with Crohn’s disease, previous surgeries of the small bowel, and tumors.

Contact us

Call (412) 359-8900 to request an appointment or to learn more about capsule endoscopies. Our team remains available to answer your questions anytime beyond your clinic visit.