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Capsule Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a procedure that helps a gastroenterologist to visualize your digestive tract to diagnose and treat problems in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). However, traditional endoscopy cannot usually reach all of the small intestine. Capsule endoscopy can allow your Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklynn GI doctor to see inside the small intestines.

Capsule endoscopy is a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera in a vitamin-sized capsule that is swallowed. As it travels through the digestive tract it takes thousands of color photos that are sent wirelessly to a recorder that you wear on a belt around your waist or on your shoulder. A technician downloads the images on to a computer and a software program turns them into a video. Your doctor can view the video to diagnose a problem of the small intestines and prescribe specific treatment.

Capsule endoscopy is usually used when a diagnosis cannot be made through other means such as colonoscopies, esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGDs), or imaging tests. It can also be useful to investigate gastrointestinal problems that don’t respond to other treatments.

The most common uses of capsule endoscopy are to:

  • Diagnose Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Diagnose cancers or tumors
  • Diagnose and monitor celiac disease
  • Identify the source of unexplained bleeding in the small intestines
  • It is also used to help identify any other abnormalities in the digestive tract such as polyps, ulcers or inflammation that might be indicative of a more serious medical condition.

You will receive complete instructions from your doctor. It is essential that you follow their instructions regarding clearing your bowel, and not eating and drinking for a period before the test.

It is also very important to tell your doctor about all your medications, allergies, prior abdominal surgeries, prior problems with your bowel, swallowing, heart, and lung disease, and whether you have any implanted devices like a pacemaker.

Capsule endoscopy is performed in your clinician’s office. Your doctor will give you the capsule, which has a slippery coating to make it easier to swallow, and you will swallow the capsule. The recorder will be attached to your waist or shoulder. The recorder has a small light that will blink while it is working. The recorder collects and stores the images.

All you have to do is swallow the capsule. Then you can do most of your usual activities but no heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.  You will be advised about when you can eat and drink again, usually two hours after you swallow the capsule. It takes 8 hours to complete the procedure. You may find the capsule in the toilet before then, but this is ok. After that you can remove the recorder and pact it into the bag provided to return it. Your doctor will contact you to discuss the results.

The main benefits include that it is a noninvasive procedure and doesn’t interfere with your daily activities. There is also no need for sedation or anesthesia, meaning recovery time is shorter and you can resume regular activities almost immediately after the procedure. Importantly, it provides the most complete evaluation of your upper digestive tract and small bowel.

Capsule endoscopy is generally safe and has few side effects, however after swallowing the capsule some people may have a fever, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or experience abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting while the capsule is in transit. If you have problems after swallowing the capsule contact your doctor immediately.

While rare, it is possible that the capsule may become lodged in the digestive tract. If this happens you may need surgery to remove the capsule.

Capsule endoscopy can provide doctors with an effective and accurate way to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the small intestines. Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn are pleased to offer this state-of-the-art diagnostic procedure. Contact them to schedule a consolation to learn more.