Understanding Capsule Endoscopy: Advancing the practice of GI Endoscopy
What is capsule endoscopy?
Capsule Endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). Your doctor will use a pill sized video capsule called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source and will view the images on a video monitor. You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to capsule endoscopy as small bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy or wireless endoscopy.
Why is capsule endoscopy done?
Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor 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 polys, 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. You doctor will tell you when to start fasting . Tell your doctor 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. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as swallowing disorders and heart or lung disease. Tell your doctor of the presence of a pacemaker, previous in the bowel, inflammatory bowel disease or adhesions.
What can I expect during capsule endoscopy?
Your doctor 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 passed 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. This 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. You doctor 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 when doctors who are specially trained and experienced in this procedure, such as members of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, perform the test. Potential risks include complications from obstruction. This usually relates to a stricture (narrowing) of the intestine from inflammation, prior surgery or tumor. Its important to recognize early signs of possible complications. If you have evidence of obstruction, such as unusual bloating, pain and/or vomiting, call your doctor immediately. Also, if you develop a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing or experience increasing chest pain, tell your doctor immediately. Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in loss of image acquisition.
American Society fro Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
1520 Kensington, Suite 202
Oak Park, IL 60523
Disclaimer: Important reminder: the preceding information is intended only to provide general guidance and not as a definitive basis for diagnosis or treatment in any particular case. It is very important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition. This information was taken directly from a pamphlet from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.