Capsule endoscopy or video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is a wireless, non-invasive endoscopic procedure that allows the physician to examine the entire small intestine (over 20 feet long). Most of the small intestine cannot be reached with standard endoscopic equipment (ie, the doctor cannot reach it with the upper endoscopy or colonoscopy). The procedure is used most commonly to diagnose or monitor anemia, GI blood loss, black stool, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease.
The capsule is the size of a large vitamin. It has a tiny battery inside, which lasts about 8 hours. It also has a tiny camera inside. The capsule is designed to focus mainly on the small intestine (not the stomach or colon). Once swallowed, it will take several pictures every second. The pictures are transmitted wirelessly to a small box recorder that you will wear on a belt. The recorder can be plugged into a special computer after the procedure, and your doctor can watch the images like a movie. Although extremely safe, as with ANY procedure, there are possible risks with the capsule endoscopy. The main risk with this procedure (although very rare), is that the capsule becomes lodged in an area of the intestinal tract. This usually only happens with patients who have Crohn’s disease or previous intestinal surgery. Even then, it is rare. Surgical removal may be necessary in this case.
The Day Before the Capsule Endoscopy
You may eat a normal breakfast and a light lunch (try to avoid raw vegetables). After lunch, have only liquids until bedtime (juice, jello, Italian ice, broth soups). NO RED liquids! Take one dose of over the counter simethicone (generic, Gas-X, Mylicon) before going to bed. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before your test (you may take your necessary prescription meds the morning of the test). You will not need to drink any bowel prep.
What to expect the day of the test
Your test will be scheduled in the Endoscopic Suite at Southern Ohio Medical Center. You should arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled test. Wear 2 piece, loose-fitting clothing. Once you arrive at the Endoscopy Suite, you will have sticky pads placed on your chest/abdomen. You will have a belt fastened around your waist. You will then be asked to swallow the capsule with a drink of water. You will then be able to leave the hospital and go about your business for the next 8 hours. After about 8 hours (or unless directed otherwise by the hospital staff), you will need to return to the Endoscopy Suite to have the equipment removed. The capsule will pass in the stool over the next few days. Try and keep an eye out for the capsule, so we know that it has passed. There is no sedation needed for this test. You can drive yourself to the hospital if you like.
If you have any questions prior to the test, please contact our office at 740-356-6828.