Capsule endoscopy

What is a capsule endoscopy?

Endoscopy for many years has been the only method at which gullet, stomach, small bowel and colon could be directly visualised. But these procedures are at times incomplete and associated with discomfort requiring sedation and analgesia.

Capsule endoscopy allows complete examination of the gastrointestinal tract. At present it is largely used to examine the small intestines for diagnosis of early or suspected small bowel Crohn’s disease, detection of benign and malignant small intestinal tumours (e.g. polyps, GISTs, lymphoma), evaluation of Coeliac disease (not responding to treatment or where there is doubt about the diagnosis) and other malabsorption disorders that may lead to chronic diarrhoea.

Capsule endoscopy involves patients swallowing a pill-sized video imaging wireless capsule. Images are then recorded until the area of interest is examined.

Capsule endoscopy 

How do I prepare for a capsule endoscopy?

Preparation for capsule endoscopy is simple: 

  • On the day before the procedure, lunch is followed by clear fluids and then an overnight fast
  • The capsule is swallowed by the patient with some water in the morning on the day of the procedure
  • Fluids may be taken after two hours and a snack after four hours
  • Patients taking iron tablets will need to stop these for one week beforehand

The main risk is capsule retention, which is estimated to occur in fewer than 0.75% of cases. In the rare instances when this occurs, an endoscopy or an operation may be required to remove the capsule.

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