What is capsule endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy is a procedure in which a miniature capsule, similar to the size and shape of a pill, is used to record images through the digestive tract. The capsule is a camera, with its own light source, that enables your doctor to examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum). Your doctor will view the captured images on a video monitor. You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to capsule endoscopy as small bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy, or wireless endoscopy.
Capsule endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the middle part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum). Your doctor will give you a pill-sized video camera for you to swallow. This camera has its own light source and takes pictures of your small intestine as it passes through. These pictures are sent to a small recording device you have to wear on your body. Your doctor will be able to view these pictures at a later time and might be able to provide you with useful information regarding your small intestine.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Capsule endoscopy (PillCam) is a non-invasive method that might be a viable option in the future for people unable or unwilling to undergo standard colonoscopy. A person swallows a battery-powered capsule that has an endoscopic camera on both ends. A video of the 10-hour trip down the digestive tract is generated before it exits the body.

Gastrointestinal specialists are using a new, non-invasive technique called capsule endoscopy to view the entire internal lining of the esophagus and small intestine and help diagnose formerly undetectable abnormalities.

In the small intestine, capsule endoscopy can be used to identify small intestinal polyps or tumors, determine the source of unidentified intestinal bleeding, and evaluate inflammatory changes in patients suspected of having Crohn's disease. In the esophagus, capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive option for detecting varices, esophagitis, and Barrett's esophagus in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

For this procedure, patients swallow a disposable pill-like device, about the size of a large vitamin, that contains a small camera. The camera transmits images via radiofrequency as the device moves down the esophagus, through the stomach, to the small intestine. The data go to a recorder worn by the individual – usually as a belt around the waist. The procedure is completed within a half hour for an esophageal exam and about eight hours for a small intestinal exam. The capsule is also being studied for use in patients with other GI conditions, such as celiac disease and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.