What is a capsule endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive procedure used to examine the entire lining of the small intestine. It involves swallowing a small plastic capsule which contains a tiny camera that takes two photos per second as it travels through your stomach and small intestine. The images are wirelessly transmitted to a data recorder that your doctor then uses to review the study.

Why is a capsule endoscopy done?

A capsule endoscopy is usually performed to try and identify the cause and location of bleeding within the small intestine. It can also be used to look for inflammation, ulcers and tumours within the small intestine.

How do I prepare for a capsule endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy requires very little preparation. To ensure adequate views it is essential that your stomach is completely empty prior to procedure. It is therefore important that you have only a light dinner the night before and then nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours prior to your capsule endoscopy.

Please bring your referral, a full list of your medications and your Medicare card on the day of your procedure.

What will happen on the day?

After registering at reception you will be fitted with a recording belt and the data recorder (worn in a small satchel across the shoulder). You will then swallow the capsule with a small glass of water. You can then go about your normal activities for the rest of the day before returning 8 hours later to have the data recorder removed.

You are allowed to drink clear liquids 2 hours after swallowing the capsule, and allowed to eat food 4 hours after swallowing the capsule.

What happens after my capsule endoscopy?

After returning to have the data recorder and belt removed 8 hours after swallowing the capsule your procedure is complete. The capsule is single use only and does not need to be retrieved. The capsule usually passes naturally in your stool after 1-2 days and can be safely flushed down the toilet.

Your study will be downloaded onto a computer and interpreted by your Gastroenterologist who will then provide a recommendation about further treatment.

Are there any risks or side-effects?

Overall a capsule endoscopy is a very safe procedure that most patients tolerate extremely well. As the capsule contains a special coating it is easy to swallow and patients rarely experience symptoms.

In approximately 1 in 100 people the capsule is retained and does not pass completely through the small intestine. This is usually due to an abnormal narrowing or blockage within the intestine. If this occurs the capsule can be removed either endoscopically or surgically, which also allows for treatment of the blockage at the same time.

In a small proportion of patients the capsule is slow to pass through the small intestine and an x-ray is requested after 2 days to check that the capsule has passed. As the capsule contains tiny batteries it is not MRI compatible, and you should not have an MRI until its passage is confirmed.

Your Gastroenterologist will discuss having a capsule endoscopy with you in detail on the day of your procedure, however if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.