Video Capsule Endoscopy

Video Capsule Endoscopy is sometimes referred to as capsule enteroscopy or small bowel endoscopy. 


Video Capsule Endoscopy is sometimes referred to as capsule enteroscopy or small bowel endoscopy. It helps doctors see inside your small intestine — an area that isn’t easily reached with more-traditional endoscopy procedures. Video Capsule endoscopy uses a miniature wireless video camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. The endoscopy camera is inside a vitamin-sized capsule that you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist.

Reasons For Video Capsule Endoscopy

Situations in which video capsule endoscopy is recommended include:

  • Chron’s disease
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Follow-up testing after X-rays or other imaging tests
  • Polyps


What To Expect

Before the procedure, you will fast for 10 hours. On the day of your capsule endoscopy, your health care team will meet with you to review what will be done during the procedure. You may be asked to remove your shirt so that several adhesive patches can be attached to your abdomen. Each patch contains an antenna with wires that connect to a recorder that you wear on a special belt around your waist. As the camera capsule passes through your intestine taking pictures, the images are transmitted to an antenna on your abdomen, which feeds the data to the recorder. The recorder collects and stores the images.

Once the recorder is connected, you will ingest the smooth, vitamin-sized plastic capsule with a glass of water. You may feel the capsule as you swallow it, but once it has passed beyond your throat, you won’t feel it as it moves through your body.

You’ll then be allowed to go about your day. You can drive and you may be able to go back to work, depending on your job. Your doctor will discuss any restrictions with you. For instance, you may be asked to avoid strenuous exercise or any activity that disrupts the recorder.


What Happens Afterwards?

Wait two hours after you swallow the capsule to resume drinking clear liquids. Four hours after you swallow the capsule, you can have a light lunch or a snack. The capsule will be far enough along in your digestive system that eating and drinking won’t interfere with the pictures.

The capsule endoscopy procedure is complete after eight hours or when you see the camera capsule in the toilet after a bowel movement, whichever comes first. Remove the antenna patches and the recorder. Pack them in a bag and follow your doctor’s instructions for returning the equipment. You don’t need to collect the camera capsule — it can be safely flushed down the toilet.

The camera used in capsule endoscopy takes thousands of color photos as it passes through your digestive tract. The images saved on the recorder are transferred to a computer with special software that strings the images together to create a video. Your doctor watches the video to look for abnormalities within your digestive tract.

It may take a few days to a week to receive the results of your capsule endoscopy. Your doctor will then share the results with you.