Understanding Capsule Camera Endoscopy

Understanding the differences among the various types of gastro-procedures may sometimes feel overwhelming. Simply put, a capsule endoscopy, occasionally called the “pill-cam” is different from conventional tube endoscopy because the type of camera used in the procedure.

When a colonoscopy or upper GI endoscopy cannot determine the cause of an issue within the digestive system, a capsule camera endoscopy is used to look within the lower intestines. A capsule camera endoscopy is a non-invasive examination to search for bleeding or other ailments in the small intestine.

To prepare for a capsule camera endoscopy, your doctor might ask you to limit your diet. For part or all of 24 hours prior to the procedure, you will most likely be asked to drink only clear liquids. Sometimes the evening before the procedure, taking a laxative to flush out the bile and mucus in the small intestine may be important. A patient swallows a vitamin-size capsule that contains a tiny video camera, which sends data to a recording device worn in a vest.

At the end of the procedure you will return to the office and the data recorder is detached so that images of your small intestine can be put on a computer screen for physician review. It takes about eight hours for the camera to record all the images of your small intestine. The exam starts with a short visit to the doctor’s office in the early am, and late in the day you return to the office to turn in the vest recorder. To make sure sure the recorder is continuously working during your time out of the doctor’s office, check for a small blinking light. You ordinarily should feel no side effects. The data is then transferred to a computer and the doctor scans the 8-hour (or more) video for clues to what problems may be found inside. The capsule will pass harmlessly out of the body in the stool within the following 3 to 4 days of the procedure. Your doctor may recommend a capsule camera endoscopy to help diagnose or treat the following conditions:

  • Obscure gastrointestinal bleeding: in which the capsule camera endoscopy can help find the cause of bleeding.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases: The capsule camera endoscopy may find areas of inflammation in your small intestine in which doctor may be able to identify Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Tumors: Capsule camera endoscopy can identify tumors in the small intestine that might be causing blood loss.
  • Celiac Disease: small studies suggest that capsule endoscopy can detect intestinal changes associated with celiac disease.
  • Polyps: Those who have inherited polyposis syndromes can develop polyps in their small intestine.

The capsule endoscopy is not for everyone. To learn more about the capsule camera endoscopy or speak to one of our highly trained gastroenterologists whom specialize in this procedure, please visit our physician’s page!