Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy Print

Capsule Endoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). You will swallow a pill sized capsule camera. You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to capsule endoscopy as capsule endoscopy, or wireless capsule endoscopy.

Please download and print out the Pill-Cam form for your office visit.

Pill-Cam Form


Why is Capsule Endoscopy Done?

Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate the small intestine. This part of the bowel cannot be reached by traditional upper endoscopy or by colonoscopy. The most common reason for doing capsule endoscopy is to search for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It may also be useful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease), ulcers, and tumors of the small intestine.

As is the case with most new diagnostic procedures, not all insurance companies are currently reimbursing for this procedure. You may need to check with your own insurance company to ensure that this is a covered benefit.

How Should I Prepare For The Procedure?

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

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

What Can I Expect During Capsule Endoscopy?

The capsule camera (pill cam) is swallowed and passes naturally through your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. At the end of the study you will return to the office where the data recorder is removed so that images of your small bowel can be downloaded to a computer for your doctor to review at a later date.

What Happens After Capsule Endoscopy?

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

What are the Possible Complications of Capsule Endoscopy?

Although complications can occur, they are rare when doctors who are specially trained and experienced order a capsule endoscopy. Potential risks include complications from obstruction. This usually relates to a stricture (narrowing) of the intestine from inflammation, prior surgery, or tumor. It's important to recognize early signs of possible complications. If you have symptoms such as unusual bloating, pain, and/or vomiting, call your doctor immediately. Also, if you develop a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing or experience increasing chest pain, tell your doctor immediately. Do not disconnect the system as this may result in loss of image acquisition.

Patient instructions for Capsule Endoscopy

Day before the study::
1. Start a liquid diet at 12 p.m. and do not eat or drink, except with necessary medications taken with a sip of water after 10 p.m.
2. Do not take any medications for 2 hours before examination.
3. No smoking for 24 hours before examination.

Day of study:
1. Arrive at the office dressed in loose fitting, two piece clothing at 8:00 a.m.
2. You will have a pre-study interview with the medical assistant or nurse where you will be given the chance to ask questions.
3. You will be required to sign an informed consent.
4. You will be given a belt to wear
5. You will be instructed to swallow the capsule (pill cam).

After ingesting the capsule::
1. Do not eat or drink for at least 2 hours. After 4 hours you may have a light snack (1/2 sandwich, soup, salad)..
2. Do not go near any powerful electromagnetic fields (i.e. MRI, or amateur (am) radio.
3. Do not disconnect or remove the belt during the study.
4. Avoid sudden movement or banging data recorder, treat it with the utmost care.
5. Verify every 15 minutes that the blue light is blinking twice per second. If not, contact the office.
6. Record the time and nature of events such as eating, drinking, or activity.
7. Avoid any strenuous physical activity, especially if sweating is involved. Do not bend or stoop during examination.
8. Do not shower until the data recorder has been removed by our staff.

Return to the office in 8 hours for removal of data recorder and return event sheet. It may take several days for the capsule to pass. If you don't visibly see the capsule pass, you may need an x-ray.