Capsule endoscopy

What Is a Capsule Endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy is a medical procedure that is used to look inside the digestive tract without the use of any external invasiveness. It is an internal imaging procedure that uses a pill-sized capsule with a tiny camera inside. The capsule is swallowed by the patient, and the camera takes pictures that can be used to diagnose various digestive system illnesses.


Before the procedure, a patient must make certain preparations, such as fasting or limiting foods prior to the procedure, stopping certain medications, and drinking plenty of fluids. A patient also needs to arrange a ride to and from the hospital, due to restrictions on driving for 8 hours after the pill consumption.


The procedure begins with the patient drinking a solution that activates the camera inside the capsule. Once activated, the capsule travels through the digestive system and takes pictures in a sequential manner. These images are sent to a recording device that the patient wears around the waist. After the procedure, the images are then used to diagnose any digestive tract illnesses.


There are several types of capsule endoscopy, including:

  • Enteroscopy - used to examine the small intestine
  • Colonoscopy - used to examine the large intestine
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) - used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum
  • Sigmoidoscopy - used to examine the sigmoid colon


One common risk associated with capsule endoscopy is bowel obstruction. If the capsule gets stuck in the digestive tract, it can cause the stomach or intestines to swell, leading to a blockage and potential surgery. Other potential risks include nausea or vomiting, allergic reaction, and abdominal pain.

Why Use a Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a safe and effective alternative to more traditional, external endoscopies. This type of procedure is preferable when the traditional methods are too risky, expensive, or impossible to use. It is also a more comfortable and less invasive option, with fewer risks of complications.

When Is a Capsule Endoscopy Used?

Capsule endoscopy is typically used to diagnose conditions in the small intestine which are not able to be diagnosed by traditional endoscopy, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcers. This procedure is also used to detect internal bleeding, tumors, and other abnormalities in the digestive tract.