What Is Capsule Endoscopy?

For an easy, high-tech inspection of your small intestine, your GI specialist may order a capsule endoscopy. Also called small bowel endoscopy, this easily tolerated test produces high-resolution images useful in understanding symptoms and diagnosing diseases.

Here are some details about capsule endoscopy.

Swallowing a Pill Camera

Essentially, that’s what capsule endoscopy involves. More easily tolerated than traditional endoscopy procedures, which require sedatives and tubes inserted through the esophagus or rectum, capsule endoscopy takes photos deep inside your small intestine via a tiny camera you ingest. The camera is encased in a vitamin-sized plastic capsule, which, when swallowed, sends data to a recording device worn on the abdomen.

Over eight hours or so, the capsule continues to operate, giving your gastroenterologist the information they need about your body. With this data, the doctor can diagnose the reasons behind unexplained weight loss, fatigue, bleeding, anemia, pain, poor bowel movements, and more.

Typically, GI doctors use capsule endoscopy to investigate conditions like:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic lower GI condition with bloating, gas, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.
  • Crohn’s disease, a severe form of irritable bowel disease, involving chronic pain, diarrhea, and bleeding.
  • Polyps, benign growths in the intestinal wall.
  • Celiac disease, an autoimmune problem that damages the intestine when too much gluten is consumed.
  • Tumors, benign and malignant.

Along with your symptoms, medical history, and in-office exams, your gastroenterologist can pinpoint the reasons behind your small intestine issues and formulate a care plan to manage or eliminate them.

The Easy GI Procedure

Here are the steps involved in a capsule endoscopy:

  1. Your GI doctor attaches a small recording device to your abdomen. A light will blink when the device is actively receiving data from the pill camera.
  2. You go home and consume a clear liquid diet for a full 24 hours. You may be asked to take a light laxative. You should avoid heavy exercise (lifting, running, gym workouts) until your test is complete.
  3. On the day of the test, swallow the capsule. It will record images for eight hours. Avoid drinking and eating anything for two hours. Resume clear liquids and light eating after four hours.
  4. Return to Genensis Healthcare Partners Health Center for your follow-up appointment, where your physician will remove the recording device. The pill camera will pass naturally through a bowel movement within a day or two.

Genensis Healthcare Partners Provides Innovative Diagnostics in California

Capsule endoscopy is just one of many testing procedures our physicians at Genensis Healthcare Partners use to understand how your GI tract works. To learn more about what we offer, or if you suspect you have a gastrointestinal issue, please call one of our locations. You can also use our convenient online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you achieve your best GI health.