Capsule Endoscopy (pill-cam)
What is a capsule endoscopy?
A capsule endoscopy (also called a pill-cam) is a non-invasive test used to examine the entire lining of the small intestine. It involves swallowing a small plastic ‘pill’ that contains a tiny camera, which takes photos as it travels through your stomach and small intestine. The images are wirelessly transmitted to a data recorder that your doctor then uses to review the study.
Why is a capsule endoscopy done?
How do I prepare for a capsule endoscopy?
A capsule endoscopy requires very little preparation. To ensure adequate views it is essential that your stomach is completely empty prior to the procedure. It is therefore important that you have only a light dinner the night before and then nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours prior to your capsule endoscopy.
What will happen on the day?
After registering at reception you will be fitted with a recording belt and the data recorder (worn in a small satchel across the shoulder). You will then swallow the capsule with a small glass of water. You can then go about your normal activities for the rest of the day before returning 8 hours later to have the data recorder removed.
You are allowed to drink clear liquids 2 hours after swallowing the capsule, and allowed to eat food 4 hours after swallowing the capsule.
What happens after my capsule endoscopy?
Your study will be downloaded onto a computer and interpreted by your doctor who will then provide a recommendation about further treatment.
Are there any risks or side-effects?
In approximately 1 in 100 people the capsule is ‘retained’, meaning it does not pass completely through the small intestine. This is usually due to an abnormal narrowing or blockage within the intestine. If this occurs the capsule can be removed during an endoscopy procedure or surgically, which also allows for treatment of the blockage at the same time. If you do have a history bowel obstruction, please let us know, and a dissolvable capsule will be used prior to the pill cam to minimize the risk of a ‘retained’ pillcam
In a small proportion of patients the capsule is slow to pass through the small intestine and an x-ray is requested after 2 days to check that the capsule has passed. As the capsule contains tiny batteries it is not MRI compatible, and you should not have an MRI until its passage is confirmed.
We will discuss having a capsule endoscopy with you in detail on the day of your procedure. Please call us if you have any concerns.