Capsule Endoscopy


What is capsule endoscopy?

 

Capsule endoscopy with a PillCam SB video capsule allows your doctor to examine your entire small intestine.  Your doctor will have you swallow a vitamin-pill sized video capsule, which has a camera and light source inside of it.   You will be free to move about during the eight hour exam.  While the video capsule travels through your body, it sends images to a data recorder you will carry in a pouch.   Most patients do not find the test uncomfortable.   Afterwards, your doctor will view the images on a video monitor.

Why is capsule endoscopy performed?
How should I prepare for the procedure?
What can I expect the morning of the capsule endoscopy?
What happens after capsule endoscopy?
How will I know the results of the capsule endoscopy?
What happens to the capsule?

 

Why is capsule endoscopy performed?

 

Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor to determine the cause for recurrent or persistent symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bleeding, anemia or diarrhea.  In certain chronic gastrointestinal diseases, this method can help to evaluate the extent to which your small intestine is involved or to monitor the effect of therapy.  Your doctor might use capsule endoscopy to obtain motility data such as gastric or time to pass through the small bowel.

 

How should I prepare for the procedure?

 

Your doctor’s office will provide you with preparation instructions before the examination.  An empty stomach allows the best viewing conditions, so you should start a liquid diet after lunch the day before the examination.  Lunch should be high in protein (like steak and eggs, for example).   You should drink only clear liquids after lunch and have nothing to eat or drink at all for ten hours before the test except medications your doctor tells you to take (if you are scheduled for 7:00 a.m., which is likely, you should start fasting at 9:00 p.m.

 

Please do not smoke or chew tobacco for 24 hours prior to the procedure.

 

Most doctors order a bowel cleansing preparation, as well.   Follow the directions given for laxatives the night before and the morning of.  You may be asked to take a laxative two hours before the time of your appointment, e.g. 5:00 a.m. if you are scheduled at 7 am.

 

Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take as you may or may not be asked to hold them.  Also tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker or other electromedical implanted devices, previous abdominal surgery, swallowing problems or previous history of bowel blockages.

 

What can I expect the morning of the capsule endoscopy?

 

Take any prescribed laxatives two hours before your procedure time (that would likely be at 5 am).  Arrive at HVSH at 6:30 a.m.  Enter through the Garden Entrance and report to the Surgical Reception Desk.  Endoscopy staff will take you from the waiting room directly back to the Endoscopy department.  You will not need to go to the Pre-Operative area or change your clothes unless your doctor will be placing the capsule during an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy).   See the link for that procedure if you are told that you will have the PillCam placed by the doctor using a scope.

 

Please wear loose fitting two-piece comfortable clothing, preferably with an elastic waistband.  An endoscopy nurse will prepare you for the examination by applying a sensor array to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves.  Males with a lot of hair may need to have it clipped in order for the adhesive to stick.  You will be asked to sign an informed consent at this time.

 

The PillCam is ingested with water and passes naturally through your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a data recorder worn over your shoulder in a pouch (similar to a small purse) for approximately eight hours.   You will be able to drink clear liquids immediately after swallowing the capsule and you may eat a light lunch four afters after that unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

 

You should not be near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as a MRI device or ham radio.  You will need to verify that the small blue light on the recorder is blinking every couple of seconds throughout the eight hour recording period and are asked to check for the light every 15 minutes or so.  Since the data recorder is actually a small computer, it should be treated with utmost care and protection.  You should not disconnect the equipment or remove the recorder during the study.  Please do not bang the unit or get it wet.  Avoid sudden movements, stooping over or bending at the waist and strenuous activities which may cause sweating.   Avoid direct sunlight. 

 

What happens after capsule endoscopy?

 

You will be instructed to return to the Endoscopy department eight hours after you swallow the PillCam (will usually be 3:00 p.m.).  You should return to the Surgical Reception Desk on the first floor at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital and tell the person at the desk that you are here to see an Endoscopy RN.   If nobody is there, pick up the phone on the desk and call extension 3402 and ask to speak to the Endoscopy RN.  You will be brought back to the Endo unit to return your recorder and to have your sensor array removed.   The images on the recorder will then be downloaded to a workstation for your doctor to review.

 

You should not have a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) examination or be near a MRI machine until the capsule is excreted.  If you are told that you need to have a MRI in the month following a capsule endoscopy and you are not sure if the capsule has passed out with a bowel movement, tell the health care provider that you need to have an x-ray to make sure the capsule has passed. 

 

How will I know the results of the capsule endoscopy?

 

After you return the equipment, the Endoscopy staff will process the information from the data recorder and your doctor will view a color videos of the pictures taken from the capsule.  After the doctor has looked at this video, you will be contacted with the results.

 

What happens to the capsule?

 

The capsule is flushable and passes naturally with a bowel movement.   You should not feel any pain or discomfort.

 

 

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