Capsule Endoscopy allows the examination of the lining of the middle part of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). This is achieved by using a pill sized video capsule that is swallowed by the patient. The capsule has its own lens and light source and will constantly send the images to a receiver, which can then be connected to a computer that will allow the visualization of the video images obtained by the capsule.
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 (Cohn’s disease), ulcers, and tumors 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 12 hours before the examination, you doctor may also recommend a bowl prep before capsule endoscopy for better visualization. Your doctor will provide you with instructions prior to the procedure. Tell your doctor about any medications you take including iron, aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate products and other over-the-counter medications. It is very important to 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.
After ingesting the capsule and until it is excreted you should not be near an MRI device or schedule 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.
Complications can occur with capsule endoscopy, they are rare when doctors who are specially trained and experienced in this procedure perform the test. It is possible for the capsule to be stuck at a stricture in the digestive tract resulting in bowel obstruction; the stricture can be secondary to inflammation or tumor. You should call your doctor immediately if you develop unusual bloating, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, fever or have trouble swallowing or experience chest pain, after the test.