Video Capsule Endoscopy Q & A
What is video capsule endoscopy?
Video capsule endoscopy, also known simply as capsule endoscopy, is a diagnostic imaging test where you swallow a capsule equipped with a tiny camera. The capsule then takes images of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
Capsule endoscopy is an alternative to traditional endoscopy, which requires inserting a flexible tube down your throat while you’re sedated. By contrast, a capsule endoscopy doesn’t require you to be sedated and is minimally invasive. Further, the capsule can access the entire length of your small intestine, which a traditional endoscope can’t do.
Unlike a traditional endoscope, a capsule endoscope can’t treat any of the conditions it detects. Regardless, it’s an effective diagnostic and monitoring and can determine if you need further treatment.
What conditions does a video capsule endoscopy diagnose?
At the Endoscopy Center of New York, the physicians use video capsule endoscopy to:
- Locate and determine the source of bleeding in your digestive system
- Diagnose tumors in your digestive tract
- Diagnose inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Detect polyps, growths that are sometimes precancerous
- Monitor celiac disease
- Follow up on imaging test results
In addition to viewing the upper portion of your digestive tract, capsule endoscopy can screen for colon cancer if you’re unable to undergo a colonoscopy.
What should I expect from a video capsule endoscopy?
Though a capsule endoscopy doesn’t require sedation like a traditional endoscopy, you still need to prepare for it in similar ways. As with a traditional endoscope, you need to fast overnight before the procedure and the doctor may recommend laxatives to clear out your digestive tract and ensure the clearest possible images. To avoid interference with the camera, you may also need to wait to take daily medication until after you ingest the capsule.
The first step of the procedure is to attach patches to your body that connect to a recorder. You wear the recorder around your waist, which collects and stores thousands of images from the capsule. Once you’re connected to the recorder, you swallow the capsule, which is about the size of a vitamin tablet. You shouldn’t feel the capsule inside you once you swallow it.
You don’t need to stay at the Endoscopy Center of New York during the test. As long as your job doesn’t require strenuous physical activity, there’s a good chance you can go to work. You can drink clear liquids two hours after ingesting the capsule and eat a light lunch or snack four hours afterward.
The test is over after eight hours or when you see you’ve passed the capsule in the toilet, whichever comes first. After the test, remove the patches and recorder and return them according to the doctor’s instructions. (You may flush the capsule.) You receive your results in about a week.
To schedule a video capsule endoscopy, call the Endoscopy Center of New York or book an appointment by contacting your gastroenterologist.