Capsule Endoscopy Procedure

The Capsule Endoscopy Procedure

A capsule endoscopy lets Dr Curran examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum).  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.  Dr Curran will use a pill sized video capsule called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source and will view the images on a video monitor.  You will be asked to schedule a follow up office appointment to review your test results.

The day of the exam, you will come to the office where the medical assistant will prepare you for the exam 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 eight hours.  After ingesting the capsule you should not be near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as cone created near an MRI device or amateur ham radio.  Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in loss of image acquisition.  The recorded images of your small bowel are downloaded on a computer for Dr Curran to review.

Although complications can occur, they are rare.  Potential risks include complications from obstruction.  This usually relates to a stricture (narrowing) of the intestine from inflammation, prior surgery, or tumor.  It is important to recognize early signs of possible complications.  If you have evidence of obstruction, such as unusual bloating, pain, and/or vomiting, call the office immediately.  If you develop a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing or experience increasing chest pain, call the office immediately.

Pain or nausea is uncommon following a capsule endoscopy.  If either should occur, please notify the office.  It severe pain or vomiting occurs after office hours you should go the your nearest emergency room.  You may resume your regular diet.  You may resume taking your normal dosage of medications.  The capsule passes naturally in a bowel movement, typically in about 24 hours.  It does not need to be retrieved and can safely be flushed down the toilet.  Occasionally, the capsule lights will still be flashing when it passes.  Until the capsule passes further testing which includes any type of MRI should be avoided.  If you have an MRI exam scheduled within three days of your capsule, the MRI exam should be postponed.