All You Need to Know about Capsule Endoscopy

An endoscopy procedure uses imaging to assess your body tissues and organs, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. By viewing your GI tract, your doctor can diagnose several medical conditions.

There are different endoscopy techniques available, and one among them is capsule endoscopy.

Read on to learn more about this technique, the procedures involved, and its uses.

What Is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy, also known as video capsule endoscopy or wireless capsule endoscopy, uses a tiny wireless camera placed in a pill-sized capsule to take pictures of your GI tract. When you swallow the capsule, the camera begins to move through your GI tract and takes several pictures, which are then transferred to a recording device around your waist.

Though capsule endoscopy can help visualize several GI tract parts, it is specifically used to view the small intestine, which is difficult to access with conventional endoscopy techniques.

Why is it done?

Capsule endoscopy is performed to detect:

  • The cause of GI bleeding
  • Polyps or tumors in the GI tract
  • Barrett’s esophagus and enlarged veins in the esophagus
  • GI conditions, including celiac disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), and Crohn’s disease
  • Abdominal pain with no specific cause

Risks Related to Capsule Endoscopy

Though capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure, it poses a small risk of the capsule getting stuck in your GI tract. This is common in people experiencing a narrowing in their GI tract due to:

  • The presence of large tumor or polyp
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A previous injury or surgery that causes a narrowing in your GI tract

Generally, the capsule that is stuck will pass on its own, but it may cause symptoms, such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea. In such circumstances, surgery may be required to remove it.

Your doctor may use the following before a capsule endoscopy to evaluate the chances of capsule retention:

  • Patency Capsule – This capsule will either pass during a bowel movement or dissolve in your GI tract
  • Corticosteroids – These drugs help reduce your GI tract inflammation
  • Imaging – An MRI or CT scan can detect a narrowing in the GI tract

Capsule endoscopy may not be recommended if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have implanted devices like defibrillators and pacemakers
  • Have swallowing disorders

How Do You Prepare for the Procedure?

  • Follow a liquid diet a day before your procedure
  • Avoid medications that may interfere with the camera
  • Take a laxative solution to clear your GI tract
  • Avoid eating or drinking before 10 to 12 hours of your procedure

What You Can Expect

During the Procedure

  • Procedure Review
    Your doctor will discuss the procedure with you to let you know what you can expect.
  • Device Setup
    You’ll have to briefly remove your shirt, and electrode patches will be placed on your chest and abdomen, which will be connected to a recording device placed on your waist.
  • Capsule Swallowing
    You will be asked to swallow the capsule with some water.
  • Continuing Daily Activities
    Once you have swallowed the capsule, you can continue your routine activities for the next 8 hours, as long as you avoid strenuous activities. Also, make sure to wait for 2 hours before drinking beverages and 4 hours before having small snacks

After the Procedure

If 8 hours have passed or the capsule passes out during a bowel movement, you should visit your doctor to get the electrodes and recording device removed.


Your doctor will transfer the images from the recording device to a computer with specialized software that will create a video by grouping the images. Then, they will watch the video to look for any abnormalities and act accordingly.

Contact us today if you are looking for the best GI surgeon in Alaska to diagnose and treat your GI conditions.


Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

General Surgeon Anchorage AK

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