What is capsule endoscopy?
Also known as Pillcam, a capsule endoscopy is a safe and effective way of visually examining the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine, (a part of the gastrointestinal tract not easily be reached by other means) using a swallowed video capsule.
The video capsule is a small, plastic capsule (about the size
of a Jelly Bean), containing a tiny video camera, light bulb, battery, and radio transmitter. Once swallowed, it travels naturally through the digestive system, recording more than 50,000 images over a period of approximately 8 hours.
During the procedure, these images are transmitted to a data recorder worn on a belt around your waist. Once the procedure is complete, the photographs are downloaded onto a computer and reviewed by your gastroenterologist.
It is important to note that the capsule procedure has some limitations and is not intended to replace gastroscopy or colonoscopy. It can only view the problems your doctor may be looking for, and does not allow treatment such as removing a polyp. A further procedure or surgery may be required if a problem is found.
Is there an alternative to having a capsule endoscopy?
Depending on the reason your doctor has suggested a capsule endoscopy, there may be alternative tests available such as x-rays, scans or a small bowel endoscopy. However, capsule endoscopy generally provides an accurate view of the entire small bowel not always possible with these other tests. Your doctor will discuss these options with you.
How long will the procedure take?
Capsule Endoscopy is a day procedure so you will not have to stay overnight in hospital. No sedation or anaesthetic is required.
How do I prepare for my procedure?
Please read and follow our Capsule Endoscopy Preparation Instructions carefully to ensure that clear pictures can be obtained during the procedure.
Will there be any discomfort?
No. The capsule is around the size of a Jelly Bean, so you should have no problem swallowing or passing it. The capsule will pass naturally with your bowel movement within 24-48 hours and usually goes unnoticed. It can be safely flushed away. If you are concerned that the capsule has not passed after 7 days you should contact Premier Endoscopy on: 9428 1000.
Most patients do not have any problems after the procedure but if you develop abdominal pain, a fever, nausea and vomiting, black tarry motions or bleeding from the back passage (more than 1/2 cup of blood) or any other symptoms that you are concerned about, contact your doctor (or the closest emergency department) immediately.
When will I receive my results?
You will not receive any results directly at the end of the procedure because the video images need to be processed and reviewed. Results are generally available 1 week after the procedure. A report will be sent to your referring doctor.
What diseases can be diagnosed?
Some common examples of small intestine diseases diagnosed by capsule endoscopy include:
What are the risks of having a capsule endoscopy?
About 1 in 100 people will have trouble passing the capsule because it becomes stuck. This can be due to a narrowing (stricture) due to a tumour, inflammation or scarring from previous surgery. This is not usually serious in the short term, but surgery may be needed to remove it. When the digital images are reviewed, if the capsule is not seen to enter the large bowel, an X-ray may be performed. Rarely, due to technical problems the procedure may fail and need to be repeated.
Until the capsule passes, further testing which includes any type of MRI should be avoided because this may cause damage to your intestinal tract or abdominal cavity. If you have an MRI planned and are not sure the capsule has passed, please contact your doctor to discuss this – you may require an X-Ray before undergoing an MRI.