What is Video Capsule Endoscopy?
Video capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive technology that uses a computerized capsule that is resistant to stomach enzymes to visualize the entire gastrointestinal tract. The capsule is about the size of a vitamin tablet and contains a battery, a transmitter, an LED light source, and a color video camera. Sensors placed on the patient’s chest receive signals transmitted by the capsule. A wireless recorder (placed over the waist) receives and records the data sent by the sensors. The data can be visualized as images or video on a monitor by your physician.
Video capsule endoscopy is indicated for small bowel diseases including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Small intestine tumors or polyps
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
No special preparations are required. Your doctor may instruct you to stop eating and drinking at least 12 hours prior to taking the capsule.
The procedure involves the following steps:
- Your technician will attach sensors on your chest.
- The sensors connect to a wireless data recorder that you wear on a belt around your waist.
- You will be asked to swallow the capsule with water.
- You will be allowed to leave for 8 hrs and resume your daily activities.
- The capsule captures 2 pictures per second as it travels along your gastrointestinal tract.
- You are instructed to check for a blue-blinking light every 15 minutes on the recorder to confirm it is working.
- You are allowed a diet of clear liquids after 2 hours of taking the capsule and a light snack and medications after 4 hours.
- Your technician removes the sensors and the data recorder after 8 hours.
- The capsule passes out in your stools.
Your doctor will discuss the results of your video capsule endoscopy during your follow-up visit.
Complications are rare but can include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
When to Call Your Doctor?
Call your doctor if the capsule does not pass in your stools after 5 to 7 days.
Your doctor will not recommend video capsule endoscopy if you have intestinal strictures (narrowing), gastrointestinal fistulas (abnormal openings) or you are pregnant.
The advantages include:
- No need for anesthesia
- Non-invasive and painless
- No need for a hospital stay
- Important for early diagnosis of intestinal bleeding or cancer