Capsule Endoscopy

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WHAT IS CAPSULE ENDOSCOPY? Capsule endoscopy can be defined as a procedure that is characterized by the use of a wireless camera in taking pictures of the digestive system or tract. It involves putting an endoscopy camera into a vitamin size capsule and the capsule is swallowed.  Pictures of your digestive tract are taken as… Read More

Capsule Endoscopy


Capsule endoscopy can be defined as a procedure that is characterized by the use of a wireless camera in taking pictures of the digestive system or tract. It involves putting an endoscopy camera into a vitamin size capsule and the capsule is swallowed. 

Pictures of your digestive tract are taken as the capsule endoscopy travels through the digestive system and recorded in a recorded you will be asked to wear around your waist during the procedure.

This enables the doctor to be able to identify abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract especially the small intestine and diagnose various clinical conditions.

Capsule endoscopy was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001 and it is particularly useful in obtaining a view of the small intestine which other conventional endoscopy methods cannot achieve.

It can also be called “video capsule endoscopy” or “wireless capsule endoscopy”.


(What conditions can be diagnosed using capsule endoscopy?)

The capsule endoscope is performed for the following reasons:

  1. To help find the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding which could be unexplained bleeding in the small intestine.
  2. To ascertain inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
  3. To show abnormal or cancerous growth in the stomach.
  4. To diagnosed immune reaction produced by the body after eating gluten.
  5. To examine the esophagus for any abnormal and enlarged veins.
  6. To screen for polyps in the small intestine.
  7. To check for abnormalities that the scans such as imaging tests could not reveal. 
  8. It also helps in diagnosis and detection of:
  • Ulcer
  • Celiac disease
  • Narrowed or strictured esophagus.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Blockages.
  • Precancerous abnormalities.


People that are eligible for capsule endoscopy are people who might be suspected of gastrointestinal bleeding, Crohn’s disease, cancer, and abnormal growth, celiac disease, intestinal polyps, abdominal pains, ulcers, inflammatory bowel, etc.

People who have swallowing disorders, expecting mothers, and people with implanted devices such as pacemakers or others devices should avoid undergoing a capsule endoscopy.


Capsule endoscopy complications are few since this procedure is quite safe and the capsule excretes within 24 to 48 hours. 

However, some complications include lodging of the capsule in your digestive tract, especially people with Crohn’s disease, or tumors that have caused a narrowing of the small intestine which could result in inflammatory bowel disease. In such a situation, the doctor will recommend a computerized tomography test to examine the narrowing before using endoscopy,

In a review of 22840 cases of retention, only about 1.4% of the cases were caused by Crohn’s disease, 5 to 13% were gastrointestinal bleeding, ad the remaining abdominal radiation.

If the complication involves the capsule getting stuck and causing signs and symptoms, the obstruction will have to be removed with surgery.


When preparing for capsule endoscopy, you will need to avoid eating or drinking for at least 12 hours before the procedure. Your doctor will give further guidelines to help you prepare adequately for it.

You might also need to avoid medications as it might interfere with the quality images that the endoscopy capsule may take. 


Before the Procedure,

Your doctor will explain the procedure again to you and reassure you of what to expect. 

Before the procedure, you will be asked to remove your shirt or blouse, this is to enable your health care providers to place an adhesive patch containing an antenna to your abdomen with wires connected to a recorder. The recorder is worn around your waist and collects the picture taken by the camera in the capsule inside your body.

During the Procedure,

Once everything is done and ready, you will be given the capsule containing the camera to swallow with water. It is quite easy to swallow due to the slippery coating on it. 

After you swallow it, you might be allowed to go about your normal activities except those involving strenuous activity such as running, jumping, lifting of objects, etc. However, this is dependent on your medical history

After the Procedure,

After 2 hours you may resume drinking water or other clear liquids and may start eating after 4 hours. However, it is subjected to the doctor’s recommendation. 

The procedure is complete after 8hours or when the capsule comes out through your bowel movement. You may now take off the recorder and the patches at your abdomen.

Due to the uniqueness of our digestive system, the capsule may be expelled within hours or days but if you don’t excrete the capsule within two weeks, alert your doctor, so a scanning test can be conducted to know where the capsule is or if it is still in your body.


The image obtained by the capsule endoscopy as it passed through your digestive tract is examined using special software on the computer that arranges the picture and creates a video with it. 

Your doctors go through the compilations and check for abnormalities that could be detected within your digestive system, and it helps him better decide the treatment to be employed for you.

The result might take some days or even a week.


The cost of capsule endoscopy is determined by several factors such as the hospital and doctor providing the services, your health insurance, your location. However, the estimated cost is around $500 without additional charges. 


  • How long does it take to pass a capsule endoscopy?

After the recorder is recovered, the capsule passes on its own between 5 to 7 days. It flows through the system and is excreted effortlessly.

  • Can you eat during capsule endoscopy?

After 2 hours of the capsule ingestion, you can drink only clear liquids (water) and after 4 hours, you will be able to eat light meals only if permitted by your doctor.

  • Do you need bowel prep for capsule endoscopy?

When prepping for capsule endoscopy, you should take into consideration the camera. Avoid taking any food or drinks 12 hours before the procedure to enable the camera to have a clear view of your abdomen. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend taking laxatives to clear your abdomen.

  • What happens if a capsule endoscopy gets stuck?

In cases where the camera is stuck and the camera could not capture the view of the intestine, endoscopic removal is necessary and the procedure can be repeated.

  • How big is the capsule endoscopy?

The size of the capsule is about 26mm × 11mm in size.