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School of Medicine
During a capsule endoscopy, also known as capsule enteroscopy or small bowel endoscopy, a tiny camera captures images of your digestive tract. Your doctor may order a capsule endoscopy in order to view your small intestine since that area is hard to reach using other endoscopic procedures.
You swallow a capsule, which moves through the digestive tract taking thousands of pictures that your doctor can examine.
Capsule Endoscopy: Why It’s Performed
Capsule endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure. Our doctors use it to diagnose:
Capsule endoscopy may benefit patients suffering from symptoms, including:
- Chronic Abdominal pain
- Unexplained Weight Loss
Capsule Endoscopy: What to Expect
You will need to follow specific preparation instructions before your procedure. Learn more about how to prepare for a capsule endoscopy.
A capsule endoscopy is performed while you go about your daily activities. Here is what you can expect on the day of your procedure:
- In the exam room, your doctor will place a series of electrodes on your abdomen.
- Your doctor then attaches the electrodes to a data recorder that you wear around your waist with a belt.
- You swallow the video capsule, which is approximately the size of a large pill.
- You are then free to leave for approximately eight hours and resume your normal activities. You will not feel the capsule as it moves through your digestive tract.
During this time, it is important to follow these instructions carefully, to ensure the success of the procedure:
- Do not come within close proximity to any powerful electromagnetic source, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine or HAM radios. If you do so while the capsule is in your body, it could cause an interference with the procedure.
- Do not drink or eat for two hours after swallowing the capsule.
- After two hours, you may drink water.
- After four hours, you may eat a light snack.
- Avoid strenuous activity, bending, stopping or sudden jarring movements.
- Check the blue blinking light on the recorder every 15 minutes. If it is not flashing, call 410-583-2614.
- Do not attempt to adjust the recorder yourself.
- Check your bowel movements during this period to see if the capsule has passed prematurely.
- If you experience nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain, or if the capsule passes within eight hours of swallowing it, you should go immediately back to your doctor.
After eight hours, you should return so the doctor can remove the recorder. He or she will download and review the images and contact you with the results within two to three weeks.
The capsule should pass on its own within five to seven days and may be safely flushed. If it does not pass, notify your physician.