Capsular endoscopy

What is capsular endoscopy?

Conventional endoscopy and conventional colonoscopy are able to examine and perform small scale surgery on large parts of the gastrointestinal tract, however the section in the middle - the small intestine - is very hard to reach using these tube like devices.

Capsular endoscopy (also known as capsule endoscopy) involves swallowing a small device the size of a vitamin pill equipped with a small camera. The device travels down through the stomach recording a large number of images which are transmitted wirelessly (via adhesive patches placed on your abdomen containing antennae) to a special component worn on a waistband.

Why is capsular endoscopy used?

Capsule endoscopy is particularly helpful in diagnosing conditions in the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum - all sections of the small intestine - especially conditions such as Crohn's disease, Coeliac disease and tumour/s in the small intestine, and where there is internal bleeding when other examinations have not identified the source.

Capsular endoscopy does not require any sedation or sufflation (the blowing in of air), in fact the only disadvantage is that no surgical procedures can be carried out by the device, only an examination.

Capsular endoscopy is often recommended where no other cause has been found for intestinal bleeding, iron deficiency or abdominal pain or where polyps, ulcers and/or tumours may be present in the small intestine.

What is involved in a capsular endoscopy?

As with most other examinations of the gastrointestinal tract, an empty stomach is strongly recommended to provide the best imaging and it is recommended to fast (ie not eat or drink) for 12 hours before the procedure. The capsule is swallowed just like a normal pill and generally takes 12-24 hours to appear at the other end. It should pass normally and with no pain in the faeces and is single use, so does not need to be recovered.

While the capsule is still in your system you can carry on your normal daily routine (although it's advisable not to undertake any strenuous activities) You should also consult your doctor if you normally take any medications, to ensure they don't interfere with the procedure, and it is important not to undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) examination while the capsule is still in your body.

Results from a capsular endoscopy normally come back a week or so after the procedure and we will be in touch as soon as they arrive.