Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy
What is Capsule Endoscopy?
Capsule Endoscopy lets us examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). We will use a pill sized video capsule, which has its own lens and light source, and we will view the images on a video monitor after the study is completed. You might hear us refer to capsule endoscopy as small bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy, or wireless endoscopy.
Why is Capsule Endoscopy Done?
Capsule endoscopy helps us evaluate the small intestine. This part of the bowel cannot be reached by traditional upper endoscopy or by colonoscopy. 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 tumors of the small intestine.
As is the case with most new diagnostic procedures, not all insurance companies are currently reimbursing for this procedure. You may need to check with your own insurance company to ensure that this is a covered benefit.
How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?
An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately 12 hours before the examination. We will tell you when to start fasting.
Tell us 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. Please let us know if you have any swallowing disorders. Tell us if you have a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, or if you have had previous abdominal surgery, a previous history of obstructions in the bowel, or a history of inflammatory bowel disease or adhesions.
What Can I Expect During Capsule Endoscopy?
We will prepare you for the examination by applying a sensor device to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves (similar to tape). The capsule endoscope is swallowed and passes naturally through your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. At the end of the procedure you will return to the office and the data recorder is removed so that images of your small bowel can be put on a computer screen for physician review.
Most patients consider the test comfortable. The capsule endoscope is about the size of a large pill. After ingesting the capsule and until it is excreted, you should not be near an MRI device or schedule an MRI examination.
What Happens After Capsule Endoscopy?
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.
We generally can tell you the test results within the week following the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take longer.
What are the Possible Complications of Capsule Endoscopy?
Although complications can occur, they are rare. Potential risks include complications from obstruction. This usually relates to a stricture (narrowing) of the intestine from inflammation, prior surgery, or tumor. It’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications. If you have evidence of obstruction, such as unusual bloating, pain, and/or vomiting, call us immediately. Also, if you develop a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing or experience increasing chest pain, tell us immediately. Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in loss of image acquisition.