What is a Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy?

A small bowel capsule endoscopy is normally an outpatient procedure that examines the entire digestive tract. This procedure examines the small intestine, which an endoscope or colonoscope cannot view. It can be helpful in uncovering any abnormalities that may not appear in x-rays or CAT scans. This procedure helps your physician to determine a specific diagnosis and treatment program.

Why It’s Done

A small bowel capsule endoscopy is a procedure used to help your physician view digestive tract abnormalities, such as inflammation or bleeding in the small intestine.

There are many medical reasons for having a small bowel capsule endoscopy, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Barium enema abnormal findings
  • Bleeding
  • CT Scan abnormal findings
  • X-ray abnormal findings

What to Expect

To allow for a thorough exam, your stomach should be completely empty. You should begin a liquid diet after lunch the day before and cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure.

During the procedure, your physician will attach sensors to your abdomen. The sensors connect to a data recorder, which you will wear as a belt around your waist. Then, you will swallow a pill-sized camera with a small amount of water. The abdomen sensors will send images to the data recorder as it passes through the digestive system. You will be able to go home and take part in normal daily activities while still wearing the sensors and data recorder. After eight hours, you will return to the hospital to have the sensors and data recorder removed.

Once the pill-sized camera has passed through your system, you will have an MRI. If you observe the capsule has not passed your system, you will have an X-ray to determine its location before given an MRI.

Complications are rare, but if they occur, they may include a capsule that has not passed. You must not have an MRI scan until the capsule has passed.

Your physician will be able to provide you with additional information before your procedure day.

Other Types of Procedures

Other types of procedures include barium x-ray exams, CAT scans and MRIs. Your physician will discuss which type of procedure is best for you.

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