Capsule Endoscopy, also called capsule enteroscopy, PillCam or wireless capsule endoscopy, allows for examination of the small intestine, which cannot be easily reached by traditional methods of endoscopy. You simply swallow a pill-sized video capsule that has its own lens and light source, and your doctor will view the images on a video monitor.
The most common reason for a 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. To achieve the best results, it is important to carefully follow your doctor’s preparation orders.
A sensor device is applied to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves, similar to tape. After you swallow the capsule endoscope, it passes naturally through your digestive tract and transmits video images to a data recorder worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system as this may result in loss of image acquisition. At the end of the procedure you'll return to the office and the data recorder is removed so the images of your small bowel can be viewed by your physician on a computer screen.
Complications are rare, especially when the procedure is conducted by specially trained and experienced doctors. The greatest potential risk is from obstruction, which is usually caused by a narrowing of the intestine from inflammation, prior surgery, or a tumor. It’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications such as unusual bloating, pain, and/or vomiting, and 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.