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  • Capsule endoscopy PDF Print E-mail

    Capsule endoscopyWhat is a capsule endoscopy?

    A capsule endoscopy is a procedure used to examine the small bowel. It is a relatively new and non-invasive way of providing your doctor with visual images of your small bowel using an electronic, pill-sized, photographic camera inside a capsule.

    The capsule is swallowed and takes pictures of the small bowel. Since the small bowel is fairly difficult to investigate using traditional methods, the use of a capsule camera has helped to improve and simplify diagnostics in this area. For obscure GI bleeding, for example, the 'diagnostic yield' of capsule endoscopy is usually considered to be much greater than that of any other current imaging procedure.

    Who should have a capsule endoscopy?

    A capsule endoscopy is most commonly performed for obscure gastrointestinal bleeding and obscure abdominal pain. It is most commonly carried out after endoscopic examination of the colon or stomach fails to determine the cause of symptoms.

    A person who has been diagnosed with anaemia (low red blood cell count) may have a capsule endoscopy to help identify the cause. One common cause of anaemia is bleeding within the gut. This may be from the stomach, large bowel or small bowel. The bleeding may not always be obvious - or visible - and therefore tests such as a capsule endoscopy may be very helpful. Once the cause is identified, corrective treatment of anaemia is generally successful.

    Pain, diarrhoea or constipation can be symptoms of underlying intestinal problems. Diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can cause inflammation (or even ulceration) in your bowel. A capsule endoscopy could be helpful as a diagnostic aid for these conditions, and to rule out more serious diseases - especially if you have visible bleeding from the back passage, which should never be ignored.

    What does a capsule endoscopy involve?

    Having a capsule endoscopy involves swallowing a pill-shaped camera that is approximately the size of a large vitamin pill (11mm x 26mm). This takes continual images during its passage down the small bowel. The images are recorded and stored in a reader that is worn on a belt around the patient’s waist. The capsule has an eight-hour battery life and then usually passes naturally through the body with no need for retrieval.

    Soon after arrival at the hospital you will be connected to the equipment and then instructed to swallow the capsule. This first appointment lasts approximately half an hour, after which you will be discharged and encouraged to go about your daily routine. You can usually drink two hours, and have a light snack four hours, after swallowing the capsule. You will be asked to return the belt and reader either that evening or the following morning.

    The images are then downloaded onto a computer, viewed as a video stream by Dr Stuart Cairns and  results should be available within a few days.

    As with all medical procedures, there can be risks involved. The main risk associated with Capsule Endoscopy is intestinal obstruction where the capsule becomes lodged in a narrowed area of the small bowel and it is therefore not recommended for patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction. As with any other medical test, it is possible that Capsule Endoscopy will not identify the cause of symptoms and it is also not recommended for pregnant women.

    Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 08:01