Capsule Endoscopy is a diagnostic tool helpful in taking pictures of the digestive tract including esophagus, stomach and especially small intestine. Small intestine is a difficult area to reach through conventional endoscopy and other imaging tests as it lies between the stomach and large intestine. In video capsule endoscopy the patient swallows a capsule of size of a large vitamin pill. The capsule has a slippery coating making it easier to swallow. This capsule contains a camera, a bulb, battery and a transmitter. The camera takes thousands of pictures of the digestive tract during its passage through the digestive tract and transmits it to a recorder worn as a belt on the waist for about 24 hours to store the images. The doctor transfers these images of the recorder to a computer which converts them into a video. The capsule is passed out of the body with stool and can be flushed away.
The common diseases of small intestine that are diagnosed through capsule endoscopy are:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Tumors in the small intestine
- Crohn’s disease
- Schatzki’s ring
It may also be used for celiac disease and polyps of the small intestine.
It is a non-invasive and safe procedure. The only risk is that at times the capsule gets stuck in the digestive tract and doesn’t come out even after two weeks. This is not a serious risk. The doctor will wait for some more time for it to come out on its own but if it causes bowel obstruction it is taken out through conventional endoscopy or last resort is surgery.
Before the capsule endoscopy you are required to
- Fast for 12 hours
- Delay or not to take any medicines
It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions before and after the procedure otherwise the test may need to be repeated in case the images are not clear.
After swallowing the capsule
- You are allowed to go home or for work but any strenuous activity should be avoided that day as it may hinder proper recording by the recorder
- Can drink clear fluids after 2 hours
- Can have light lunch after 4 hours
The recorder can be removed and packed if the capsule comes out in the stool or 8 hours after swallowing the capsule whichever is earlier. If you do not see the capsule in the stool, please contact your doctor.
Your doctor may take few days to a week to analyze the video and would tell you the results of the test.