What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy involves swallowing a jelly bean-sized plastic capsule which passes naturally through the small intestine. The capsule takes 2 pictures per second and transmits them to a Data Recorder worn on a belt for the duration of the test – about 8 hours. The pictures are later reviewed on a computer.

Capsule Endoscopy is generally safe and well tolerated with a 60% chance of finding the cause of otherwise unexplained anaemia.

The day before Capsule Endoscopy examination:

  1. On the day before the Capsule Endoscopy, have breakfast and a light lunch, then only drink clear fluids. You can have icy poles and jelly. Avoid seeded breads for a few days before.
  2. Drink plenty of clear fluids at least 12 - 15 large glasses or more.
  3. The reason for all the fluids is to keep you hydrated and to "flush" the small bowel out. Clearer pictures of the end of the small bowel are obtained if you drink plenty of fluids. If you do not drink the clear fluids you may have to have a repeat Capsule Endoscopy, with colonoscopy bowel prep the day before.
  4. From 12 midnight, do not eat or drink, except for necessary medication with a sip of water.

The day of Capsule Endoscopy examination:

Do not take medication within 2 hours of Capsule Endoscopy examination. Wear loose-fitting, two piece clothing (shirt and pants/skirt).

Swallowing the capsule

The SensorArray will be applied to your stomach with adhesive pads and will be connected to the DataRecorder which you will wear on a belt around your waist. After that you will swallow the capsule with some water.

You can leave straight after swallowing the capsule and will be asked to come back 6-8 hours later to have the equipment removed.

After swallowing the capsule

Check the blue light on the top of the Data Recorder at least every 15 minutes - if the light stops blinking, note the time and call the clinic or hospital.

You must wait 2 hours before you can drink clear liquids (water, apple juice), and 4 hours until you can eat a light meal and take your medications (unless otherwise advised after swallowing the capsule). Once the equipment is removed you can eat normally.

Do not exercise. Avoid heavy lifting. You may walk, sit, lie down or drive. You may return to work, if you can avoid unsuitable environments and physical activities. Try not to touch the Data Recorder or the SensorArray leads and avoid getting them wet.

Avoid going near MRI machines and radio transmitters. You may use a computer, radio, stereo, or mobile phone. Do not stand directly next to another patient undergoing Capsule Endoscopy.

Return to the relevant clinic/hospital at the time indicated (6-8 hours after you swallowed the capsule) to have the equipment removed.

Pain or nausea are very uncommon following capsule endoscopy. Should you feel persistent pain or nausea please call Dr Brown’s office.

The capsule passes naturally in a bowel movement, typically in about 24-72 hours. Most likely you will be unaware of its passage. It does not need to be retrieved and can safely be flushed down the toilet. Should you be concerned that the capsule has not passed after 7 days you should contact Dr Brown’s rooms.

Until the capsule passes, further testing which includes any type of MRI should be avoided. If you have an MRI examination scheduled within the next 3 days, the MRI examination should be postponed.

Results are generally available within 1 week of the procedure. A report will be sent to the referring doctor.