Capsule endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. The camera sits inside a vitamin-sized capsule that you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist or over your shoulder.

Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine — an area that isn't easily reached with conventional endoscopy. Capsule endoscopy can be used by adults and by children who can swallow the capsule. The procedure is usually started in a doctor's office.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor see inside your small intestine. Your small intestine, located between your stomach and your colon, can be difficult to reach with conventional endoscopy and imaging tests. Capsule endoscopy can also provide better imaging of the lining of the small intestine than can other tests.

Your doctor may recommend capsule endoscopy to help diagnose or treat:

  • Obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Capsule endoscopy can help find the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases. Capsule endoscopy may reveal areas of inflammation in the small intestine that can help your doctor diagnose Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Cancer. Capsule endoscopy can identify tumors in the small intestine that otherwise might be difficult to detect. Capsule endoscopy sometimes is done in conjunction with CT enterography because CT enterography can indicate tumors within the small bowel wall.
  • Celiac disease. Some small studies suggest that capsule endoscopy can detect intestinal changes associated with celiac disease — an immune reaction to eating gluten — and can help detect complications of the condition.
  • Polyps. People who have inherited polyposis syndromes that can cause polyps in the small intestine, such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, may occasionally have capsule endoscopy to screen for polyps.
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