What is capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is also known as pill-camera or wireless endoscopy. Capsule endoscopy is used mainly to pinpoint bleeding in hidden areas in the small bowel. It is more sensitive than many other techniques. Capsule endoscopy discovers a source of bleeding in approximately 60 – 70% of patients. It is also useful for tracking small bowel tumours and obscure abdominal pain. In Australia, we are currently researching and trialling new generation capsules for examination of the gullet and large bowel.
Capsule endoscopy uses a 10 – 27mm capsule, which contains a tiny camera, batteries, light source and transmitter. After swallowing, the capsule travels like a piece of food through the gastrointestinal system. It provides high-resolution images of the stomach and small intestine, taking two pictures every second for up to 11 hours, providing about 60,000 pictures in total.
Recording probes, taped on the abdomen, track the progress of the capsule. The images obtained by the capsule are transmitted to a data-recorder worn in a harness around the waist.
What do I need to do to prepare for the capsule?
You should fast (no food or drinks) for 8 hours before undergoing capsule endoscopy. Diabetics should withhold their diabetic
medication during the fasting period. If you take insulin, this should be discussed with your doctor. Often, no bowel preparation is required for capsule endoscopy; however, your doctor may suggest that only a fluid meal is taken the night before the procedure. No special diet is required but strongly colored foods and iron tablets should be avoided for 24 hours before the examination.