What is capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is the examination of the small intestine with the help of a PillCam SB video capsule. You need to ingest a video capsule having a size of a pill that contains a camera and light and also called as a capsule endoscope. The patient also needs to wear a belt on the waist that contains a data recorder. When the ingested capsule travels through the digestive tract, it sends the images to this data recorder that you wear. After completing the capsule endoscopy procedure, the doctor views the recorded images on a video monitor. The capsule endoscopy exam usually takes 8 hours in which you can move freely and most of the patients feel comfortable during the procedure.
What is the reason of performing capsule endoscopy of the small intestine?
Capsule endoscopy is performed to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms that include abdominal pain, bleeding, diarrhea or anemia which recur or become persistent. In some long-standing severe gastrointestinal diseases, this exam is used to assess the extent to which the small intestine is involved in the GI disease. The doctor also uses the capsule endoscopy to collect the motility data that includes gastric or the small bowel transit time.
How to prepare for the capsule endoscopy procedure?
The doctor gives you instructions for capsule endoscopy prep and you should strictly follow them before the exam. In order to get optimal results of capsule endoscopy, it is best that you have an empty stomach and for that, you need to have a liquid diet after the lunch on the day prior to examination day. Usually, it is recommended that the patients should stop eating and drinking including water for ten hours before the exam but the doctor tells you when you can start fasting. Before the exam, it is important that you should tell your doctor if you are taking any medications because the dose needs to be adjusted for the exam. Secondly, inform the doctor about implanted pacemaker or any other electro-medical device, if you had an abdominal surgery or any obstructions in your bowel or having a swallowing problem.
What to expect during the procedure?
At first, the doctor or nurse prepares you for the capsule endoscopy procedure by giving you a belt to wear on the waist and this belt contains data recorder with a sensor array. You ingest the capsule endoscope with water that passes through the digestive tract and transmits the video images to the data recorder on the worn belt for about 8 hours. Usually, the patient can eat 4 hours after ingesting the capsule but it is better to follow the doctor’s instructions.
What to expect after the procedure?
At the end of the procedure, you need to return the complete equipment to the doctor. The images that are obtained during the procedure are then downloaded for the review of the doctor. It is important that from the time you ingested the capsule to the time it is excreted, you shouldn’t have a MRI examination; even you can’t go near to the MRI machine.
How will the patient know the results of the procedure?
The doctor views a color video on a monitor of the downloaded images from data recorder and evaluates the GI tract capsule endoscopy results on the basis of these images. Then, after compiling and finalizing the results, the doctor contacts you to discuss them.
How does the ingested capsule get eliminated and will the patient feel it coming out?
As the capsule is disposable so it naturally passes during a bowel movement. The patient doesn’t feel any discomfort or pain.
Are there any complications of capsule endoscopy procedure?
Yes, the complications may occur but they are very rare in that case when the procedure is performed by an experienced and trained specialist or gastroenterologist. The possible complications include retention of the capsule that can be treated with surgery while it also makes the diagnosis of the condition, fever, severe abdominal or chest pain or trouble in swallowing. If a patient experiences any of these complications then he/she should consult the doctor immediately.
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