Capsule endoscopies examine the lining of the duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and parts of the small intestines—the middle portion of your gastrointestinal tract. During this procedure, you will swallow a pill-sized camera that takes pictures of your small intestine as it passes through. Your doctor places a small sensor belt on the patient which helps capture the images. Patients should use a capsule endoscopy to search for causes of abdominal pain, intestinal bleeding, detect polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, and tumors.

The possibility of the capsule becoming stuck is very low.

The purpose of capsule endoscopy

Most often, capsule endoscopy is used to determine why the small intestine is bleeding. Broadly, this gastrointestinal procedure helps your doctor inspect your small intestine not reached by upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. If you have polyps, tumors, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease), and ulcers can be detected using this capsule endoscopy. Check with your insurance company to determine if they cover this procedure.

Prepare for the procedure

12 hours before your examination, avoid drinking liquids and eating food to ensure optimal results and your safety. Inform your doctor of all medications that you’re taking, including over-the-counter vitamins, aspirin, and prescription medications. Your doctor may recommend that you adjust your dosage before your examination.

If you have any of the following medical issues, inform your doctor:

  • Allergies
  • Medical conditions
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Presence of a pacemaker
  • Presence of a defibrillator
  • Previous abdominal surgery
  • History of bowel obstructions
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Adhesions

Your doctor may decide that a bowel cleansing is necessary before the examination can be conducted.

What to expect

Your doctor will place a sensor belt around your waist prior to the examination. The capsule endoscope is pill-sized so it can be easily swallowed and pass through your digestive tract. While the capsule is traveling through your body, it will take video images for eight hours, transmitting them to a data recorder worn on your belt. After the procedure, your doctor will remove the data recorder to review the images the capsule endoscopy collected.

Patients tend to report feeling comfortable throughout the examination. Once you’ve ingested the capsule, avoid MRIs.

After the procedure

Two hours after ingesting the capsule, you may drink clear liquids. After four hours, you may eat a light meal. If your doctor suggests otherwise, follow their instructions. Avoid strenuous physical activity while the capsule is still in your body.

Within one to two weeks, you will usually receive your test results from your doctor.