Capsule Endoscopy

CapsuleThe small bowel is one area of the gastrointestinal tract that has been difficult to image, but with the advent of the capsule endoscope, it is possible to image the whole of the small bowel. This procedure is established in the following situations:

  • Unexplained iron deficiency anaemia
  • Obscure Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Suspicion of small bowel Crohn’s disease
  • Assessment of polyp syndromes

Having been assessed to be suitable for the procedure, the preparation for the capsule endoscopy involves starving from midnight prior to the procedure. Sometimes a bowel cleansing solution is given the night before and on the morning of the capsule. In order to do the capsule endoscopy, leads are attached to your abdomen that connects to a data recorder that receives the information that is transmitted by the capsule as it passes through the small bowel. This is worn for the duration of the test. Once the capsule is swallowed with a glass of water, you are generally free to leave for the day. The leads should remain attached for 8-9 hours and can then be removed. (The capsule itself, does not need to be retrieved). The data recorder and leads can simply be returned the evening of the procedure or the next day for analysis.

During the procedure, you should not drink until 2 hours after the capsule has been ingested (no carbonated (fizzy) drinks though) and food and medicines can be eaten 4 hours after the capsule has been ingested.


Dr. Mayhead practices capsule endoscopy at the Esperance Hospital in Eastbourne

A capsule endoscopy is not undertaken in the following circumstances:

  • Strictures (narrowings) of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Pregnancy
  • Electromechanical implants (Pacemaker / defibrillator)
  • Dysphagia (Difficulty in swallowing)
  • If a MRI scan is planned soon after the test

The procedure is a safe test and is generally painless. The only major complication is retention of the capsule which will be discussed prior to the procedure being undertaken. It is generally related to the presence of a stricture or narrowing of the bowel, that can sometimes be predicted and the test avoided.

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