Also known as Capsule Enteroscopy, capsule endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract. This area includes three portions of the small intestine: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The primary use of a capsule endoscopy is to examine the areas of the small intestines that cannot be seen by other types of endoscopy, such as colonoscopy and endoscopy (EGD). The procedure requires that the patient swallow a capsule. This capsule takes approximately 50-60 thousand images of the small intestine, which the doctor will then examine.
Purpose of a Capsule Endoscopy
Capsule endoscopy is a great way for your doctor to see inside of your small intestines. It is often used to help treat or diagnose the following conditions:
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Unexplained bleeding
- Unexplained iron deficiency
- Unexplained abdominal pain
Preparing for Your Capsule Endoscopy
To ensure that the camera gets clear images of your digestive tract, you should have nothing to eat or drink for about twelve hours before the procedure. Water up to two hours before the procedure is OK. In addition, you may need to stop taking certain medications such as iron. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.
During and After Your Capsule Endoscopy
First, your doctor will have you swallow a pill-like capsule. Some capsules require a sensor to be applied to the outside of your abdomen. As the capsule passes through your digestive tract, video will be transmitted to a data recorder that your will wear on your belt or in a bag.
For the next 8-12 hours, you will be able to go about your normal life while the pill passes through you. You will be allowed to drink clear liquids after two hours and eat a light meal after four. You should, however, avoid vigorous activity during the test.
The recording time is generally about eight hours. We place the monitor and start the test generally in the start of the day, and then the patient returns to the office by end of the day to check the status of the capsule location and removal of the monitor. The capsule itself will eventually pass through a bowel movement. The capsule can be flushed through the toilet.
Although problems with capsule endoscopy are rare, there are a number of possible complications. For some people the capsule will take longer than normal to pass. For others the capsule may get stuck in a narrow spot in the digestive tract, causing a bowel obstruction. Signs of obstruction include:
You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.
- Understanding Capsule Endoscopy (ASGE)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to get the results of my capsule endoscopy?
A: Once you have returned the recorder, your doctor will analyze the video, looking for abnormalities in your digestive tract. The amount of time it takes to get your results can range from a few days to about two weeks.
Q: How is a capsule endoscopy different from a regular endoscopy?
A: As the name suggests, the capsule endoscopy uses a small, pill-like capsule to enter the digestive tract and take images. A regular endoscopy uses an endoscope that is fed down the throat by your doctor.
Q: Should I worry if my capsule takes longer to pass than 8-12 hours?
A: In most cases this is due to normal variation in how quickly the capsule can move through your digestive tract. Sometimes, however, it can be sign of a more serious bowel problem/obstruction. If you suspect you may have a bowel obstruction and experience any of the symptoms above, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
Contact a Los Angeles Capsule Endoscopy Expert
Capsule endoscopy is one of the best ways for your doctor to examine your digestive tracts for abnormalities, and the doctors at LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition are experienced at administering the procedure.
Contact LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition by calling (310) 289-8000 or by emailing us.
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