Skip to Content

Capsule Endoscopy/Pill Cam

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy lets your doctor look at your small intestine. This is the part of the digestive system that can’t be reached by Upper Endoscopy or a Colonoscopy. 

The most common reason to do this is to look for a cause of bleeding in your small intestine.   Polyps, inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the small intestine can also be seen. It is usually done if the cause of bleeding was not found after you have a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy.  Capsule endoscopy can also look for celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.

How do I prepare for the Capsule Endoscopy?

You will only be able to drink clear liquids from 12 noon-7pm the day before the exam.

You will not be able to eat or drink anything from 7pm the day before until after the exam starts.

You will need to take 2 Dulcolax pills the evening before the exam to help clean out your small intestine.

Make sure you have told your doctor about any medications you take because you might need to adjust your dose before the capsule endoscopy. 

The doctor also needs to know if you have or had:

  • a pacemaker
  • previous surgery in your abdomen
  • bowel surgery
  • history of any obstructions or adhesions in your bowel
  • any diverticulum/sac or stricture in your esophagus
  • difficulty swallowing
  • and any other medical conditions you have.

What can I expect during Capsule Endoscopy?

At the doctor’s office, sensors will be taped to your abdomen in the morning. You will then swallow a pill-sized capsule that acts as a camera taking pictures as the capsule passed naturally through your digestive system. The pictures are transmitted to a data recorder worn on a belt outside your body for about 8 hours. At the end of the procedure you will return to the office and the data recorder is removed.  The pictures of your small bowel will be put on a computer screen for the doctor to review.

You will be able to drink clear liquids 2 hours after you swallow the capsule and eat a light meal 4 hours after you swallow the capsule.   You will be asked not to exercise during the study.

What happens after the Capsule Endoscopy?

You will be able to return to your normal activities.

You will be told the test results within 1-2 weeks after the study is completed.

Are there any Risks for having this done?

There is a very small risk that the capsule can get stuck.  You must call your doctor immediately if you have unusual bloating, pain or vomiting during or after the test.