Preparation and Procedure For Conducting a Capsule Endoscopy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a very popular medical test that is conducted when the doctor needs to examine the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes three portions of the small intestine known as the duodenum, jejunum and the ileum.


The capsule endoscopy procedure is a new method of performing an endoscopy by asking the patient to swallow a pill sized video camera and the light source on this miniature camera will make the images it captures of your intestines more clear. The doctor will also ask you to wear a small recording device on your body on which the captured images are stored.

An endoscopy is becoming an increasingly popular medical test because of the many advantages it has when dealing with conditions such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and anemia as a result of intestinal loss of fluid. Before the commencement of the procedure, it is essential that the intestines are properly cleared of any residual food and bacterial debris. This is most often accomplished with the help of laxatives or purges that are also used before a colonoscopy. Once consumed, the camera is able to transmit the captured images to the recording device with the help of radio transmission. The procedure extends over a period of 24 hours during which continuous images are sent by the camera of the insides of the esophagus, the stomach and small intestine. After the 24 hours timeframe, the images are downloaded into the doctor's computer for analysis.

Preparation Required

The capsule itself is passed in the patient's stool and flushed down the toilet. The main benefit of a capsule endoscopy over a normal endoscopy is the fact that some diseases and conditions are based around the small intestine, beyond the reach of the upper gastrointestinal endoscope or colonoscope. The test is unlikely to be uncomfortable in any way and only minor changes are required to your daily schedule on the day of the test. For example, you will be able to drink clear liquids about two hours after ingesting the capsule while a light meal can be consumed after another couple of hours. However, vigorous physical activity will need to be avoided during the entire 24 hours that the capsule is capturing data. While the test is generally a safe one, there is the potential for the camera to get stuck in a narrow portion of the digestive tract - an occurrence that will result in bowel obstruction.