Capsule Endoscopy: What It Is, What to Expect, and Should You Opt for it

Modern medical science has reached a level where science can cure most health problems. The gastrointestinal tract is one of the most sensitive internal organs. It includes parts of a digestive system and it is vital for digesting food. When you are having trouble in your stomach and are not able to digest food properly, your doctor might recommend the Capsule Endoscopy procedure.

What is a Capsule Endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy procedure uses a miniature camera to take pictures of your gastrointestinal tract. The miniature camera is swallowed as a capsule. The capsule now takes a full journey through your digestive tract. Pictures are clicked and transferred to a recording device that you wear around your waist.

Compared to more invasive procedures, Capsule Endoscopy is seen as a much easier and simpler procedure and hence is often recommended by doctors. It’s perfect for spotting problems in the small digestive system.

Conditions diagnosed for using capsule endoscopy

When does a doctor recommend capsule endoscopy? There are certain ailments that a doctor might have diagnosed you for. What are they?

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
    You may be suffering gastrointestinal bleeding. A Capsule Endoscopy procedure can be very useful in pinpointing the cause of the internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor may recommend it when he is unable to find the cause for bleeding in the small intestine.
  • Diagnose of inflammatory bowel diseases
    Capsule endoscopy can be used by a medical professional to identify bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. The capsule sends images that identify which areas in the intestine have inflammation.
  • Diagnose cancer
    Tumours can be detected in the digestive tract with capsule endoscopy.
  • Diagnose celiac disease
    Celiac disease is triggered by gluten. Capsule endoscopy can be very effective for tracking the digestive tracts reaction to gluten.

Today, a modern doctor has a range of tools to conduct a diagnosis from X-ray to colonoscopy. However, there may be certain situations where capsule endoscopy is the best choice to diagnose your symptom.

Does Capsule endoscopy have any risks?

This is a common question that doctors get. The good news is that the capsule endoscopy carries very few risks. In fact, the procedure is quite common today. It gives a medical professional a non-invasive tool to diagnose a problem and treat it.

If the patient is suffering inflammation in the digestive tract, there is a chance that the narrow tract may trap the capsule endoscopy. In case the capsule endoscopy does not pass through a bowel movement, a doctor may opt for invasive methods to remove it.

However such cases are rare.

Preparing for the Capsule Endoscopy Procedure

Before consuming the capsule endoscopy, the doctor will ask you to take certain steps to prepare your body. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Failing to do so can result in an increased risk of the procedure, or the doctor may have to reschedule it.

12 Hours Fasting

You will be asked to fast for 12 hours before the procedure. This includes not eating or drinking anything. For this reason, it is best to schedule the procedure in the morning.

Laxative Medication

Your doctor may ask you to take a laxative to flush out your small intestine. This will improve the quality of images taken by capsule endoscopy due to a clear intestine.

Additional Precautions

Once you take the capsule endoscopy, you can go about your day as normal. However, it would be best to avoid any strenuous exercise. In case, you have a job that requires heavy lifting, it’s best to check with your doctor first.


What to Expect

Before the procedure, a medical team will attach adhesive patches to your abdomen. These patches contain antennas with wires that connect to a storage recorder. However, there are new capsule endoscopy models that do not require this set-up.

The recorder will be put around your belt using a special belt. So, be sure not to damage this device.

Swallow the Capsule

Once the endoscopy set-up is ready, you can swallow the capsule along with water. It is as simple as swallowing a medicinal capsule.

After this, you can go about your day.

After the Procedure

After swallowing the capsule, you have to wait for 2 hours before you can drink any liquids. And, you have to wait for 4 hours after the procedure before you can eat. It is recommended to only have a light snack.

The Procedure Ends

The procedure ends within either 8 hours, or when you see the capsule in the toilet after a bowel movement – whichever comes first. Follow your doctor’s instructions on removing the adhesive patches and recorder. Ensure you store them carefully so that you can return them safely to back.

The Final Result

Once you give the recorder and equipment back, a special application is used to extract the images and create a slideshow of the images. Your doctor will observe these images and check for abnormalities. He will then share the final diagnoses with you. Getting the result can take a few days.

Based on the diagnosis, medication or further procedures would be recommended. When it comes to caring for your health, you want to ensure that all steps are taken to catch any medical issues in advance.

Capsule Endoscopy is a relatively painless process that can provide insights into why your digestive system is giving you problems. Since it is a simple procedure, quite often doctors opt for it.

So, if your doctor recommends this procedure, should you opt for it? While your doctor does have other options like an X-ray, a CT Scan, and colonoscopy, this one would be right for you, based on his recommendation.