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Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that involves the use of a small wireless camera to take pictures of a person’s digestive system. A capsule endoscopy camera is contained in a vitamin-sized capsule that one swallows.

The camera within the capsule starts traveling through the GI tract as soon as the patient consumes it. Thousands of images are taken during this period. The patient wears a recording device around his/her waist that receives the images.

The Need for Capsule Endoscopy

  • To investigate the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • To diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.
  • To examine the esophagus
  • To screen for polyps
  • To diagnose cancer
  • To diagnose celiac disease
  • To do follow-up testing after X-rays or other imaging tests

Possible Risks of Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is considered a safe and effective procedure with minimal risks. A very small percentage of tests result in clinically significant problems, such as symptomatic capsule retention and aspiration. Currently, there are no acknowledged methods for precisely anticipating or avoiding capsule retention.

Preparation for Capsule Endoscopy

There are a number of steps that the patient will likely have to do in preparation for a capsule endoscopy. These include:

  • Not eating or drinking in the 10 to 12 hours prior to the procedure.
  • To take a laxative solution to help clear his/her GI tract, which can improve camera visibility.
  • To maintain a clear liquid diet the day before the actual procedure.
  • To avoid certain medications that may interfere with the camera.

Capsule Endoscopy Procedure

  • Procedure review: On arrival for an appointment, the doctor will go over the procedure with the patient so that he/she will have an idea of what to expect.
  • Device setup: The patient puts on a recording device on his/her waist during the procedure. The images the capsule takes as it passes through the GI tract will be stored on this gadget.

He/she may be asked to take off their shirt so that a series of electrode patches can be delivered to the skin on the chest and abdomen which are meant to connect to the recording device.

  • Swallowing the capsule: The capsule is then swallowed with a small amount of water which is about the size of a large multivitamin pill.
  • Daily activities: After swallowing the capsule, the patient can continue with his/her daily activities for the next 8 hours.

At this time, the doctor will issue guidelines to be followed while the capsule is passing through the system. They could include:

  • To wait at least 2 hours before drinking clear liquids
  • To wait at least 4 hours before having a small snack
  • Avoid physically demanding activities, especially those that require jarring or abrupt motions or bending and stooping motions
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