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Capsule Endoscopy

Overview

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that allows your health care provider to see the inside lining of the middle part of the GI tract, including portions of the small intestine. This procedure is chosen over an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy because the entire small intestine cannot be visualized by those procedures.

What to expect

You will swallow a video camera about the size of a pill, and as it passes through your GI tract, images from inside are transmitted to an external data recorder. The capsule has its own lens and light source. You will then return to the doctor where the images of your small intestine can be reviewed. The capsule will eventually pass painlessly in your stool.

What can be found?

A capsule endoscopy can search for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It may also be useful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers or tumors in the small intestine.

How to prepare

Before undergoing a capsule endoscopy, you will need to have an empty stomach, so no food or drink of any kind for at least 12 hours before the procedure. Talk to your doctor about specific instructions. You will also need to disclose any medications, even over-the-counter ones, and discuss your medical history, including previous surgeries or bowel disease.