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Capsule Endoscopy

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy (also known as pill camera or wireless endoscopy) is used mainly to locate bleeding in hidden areas in the small bowel. Capsule endoscopy uses a 10 – 27mm capsule, which contains a tiny camera, batteries, light source and transmitter. After swallowing the capsule, it travels like a piece of food through gastrointestinal system. It delivers high resolution images of the stomach and small intestine, taking two pictures every second for up to 11 hours, providing about 60, 000 pictures in total.

Why have a capsule endoscopy?

It is more sensitive than many other techniques. Capsule endoscopy discovers a source of bleeding in approximately 60 – 70 % of patients. It is also useful for tracking small bowel tumours and obscure abdominal pain.

How do I prepare for capsule endoscopy?

A proper patient preparation is very important for the procedure to be successful and safe. If you have made an appointment with us for capsule endoscopy procedure, you will need to follow the prescribed preparation instructions link below.


How is capsule endoscopy performed?

On the day of the procedure, you will be asked to wear a harness, holding the data recorder, around the waist for 8 hours. This will accompanied by a recording probes as a sling bag to track the progress after the capsule is swallowed. The images obtained by the capsule are transmitted to a data-recorder worn in a harness around the waist.

To swallow the capsule, you will be instructed to drink a glass of water with added a substance called ‘simethicone’ to prevent ‘bubbles’ which can interfere with the picture transmitted by the capsule.

Gentle activity is encouraged while wearing the harness as this will aid the progress of the capsule.

No fluids should be taken for 2 hours after the capsule is swallowed and no solid food is permitted for 4 hours after swallowing the capsule. Do not swallow chewing gum during the examination.

What happens after capsule endoscopy?

The belt and leads will be removed when you return to the centres at eight hours after the capsule is swallowed. The information from the data-recorder is downloaded on a computer and the images are composed into a video to be examined by the doctor. The report will be available to your referring doctor after a week. A follow up appointment with your GP or specialist should be made to discuss the results and allow further treatment.

The capsule passes naturally in a stool within 1-3 days. Most patients are not aware it has passed. The capsule is single use only and does not need to be retrieved and can be flushed down the toilet.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Capsule endoscopy is a very safe procedure. Complications of capsule endoscopy are very infrequent.

We aim to provide the best quality healthcare. Our quality policies and procedures are in place to minimise the possible risks. The link below will provide you the information of the possible uncommon risks. UNCOMMON RISKS OF ENDOSCOPIC PROCEDURE

The capsule has a gel coating which makes it easy to swallow. Less than 1 patient in 100 has difficulty in swallowing the capsule. Abdominal pain or nausea after swallowing is extremely rare and should be reported immediately.

Approximately 1 in 100 patients retain the capsule in the bowel. This may occur if the bowel is narrowed or has some other unusual anatomy. Usually the capsule will eventually pass. On rare occasions it will need to be removed endoscopically or surgically. The obstructing lesion can be corrected at the same time.

On the day of the test, approximately 1 in 10 patients may have a slow small bowel transit and the capsule may not be seen to reach the large bowel on the capsule endoscopy recording. An abdominal X-ray will then be arranged to check that the capsule has passed out of the bowel.

Patients wearing the harness and data recorder are advised to stay away from large radio transmitters (e.g. TV transmission towers) and are advised not to visit airports and major shopping centres where the harness could trigger security screening equipment.