Capsule Endoscopy of the Digestive System

Capsule endoscopy lets your physician examine digestive system including the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum). This part of the bowel cannot be reached by traditional upper endoscopy or by colonoscopy. Your physician will use a pill-sized video capsule called an endoscope, that has its own lens and light source and will view the images on a video monitor. You might hear your physician or other medical staff refer to capsule endoscopy as small-bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy or wireless endoscopy.


An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately 12 hours before the examination. Your physician will tell you when to start fasting.

Tell your physician in advance about any medications you take, including iron, aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate products and other over-the-counter medications. You might need to adjust your usual dose prior to the examination. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as swallowing disorders and heart or lung disease.

Tell your physician of the presence of a pacemaker, previous abdominal surgery, previous history of obstructions in the bowel, inflammatory bowel disease or adhesions.


Your physician will prepare you for the examination by applying a sensor device to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves similar to tape. The capsule endoscope is swallowed and passes naturally through your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately 8 hours. At the end of the procedure you will return to the office and the data recorder will be removed so images of your small bowel can be put on a computer screen for physician review.


You will be able to drink clear liquids after 2 hours and eat a light meal after 4 hours following the capsule ingestion, unless your physician instructs you otherwise. You will have to avoid vigorous physical activity such as running or jumping during the study. Your physician generally can tell you the test results within the week following the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take longer.

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