St. Elizabeth'sServices and Clinical CentersGastroenterology

Video Capsule Endoscopy

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center's Division of Gastroenterology began using video capsule endoscopy to diagnose obscure gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding and Crohn's disease in August 2011.

Video capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive test to diagnose the cause of obscure GI bleeding and other small intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease. The procedure entails swallowing a capsule, about the size of a multivitamin pill, which contains a video camera. As this capsule moves through the intestines, it takes approximately 55,000 pictures, which are transmitted to a small data recorder that the patient wears on the belt. These pictures are later downloaded and interpreted by a physician.

How is the procedure performed?
After an overnight fast, the patient will come to the doctor's office where they are fitted with the equipment. The equipment includes a belt that contains both a battery and a data recorder. In addition, leads will be hooked up to the abdomen, similar to how leads are hooked up during an EKG. Once the equipment is hooked up, the patient will ingest the capsule. The patient can eat four hours after the capsule is ingested, and is instructed to return to the office in eight hours, when the equipment is disconnected.

What kind of preparation do I need?
The preparation may depend on other medical conditions. However, preparation usually involves ingesting a clear liquid diet the day before the test and an overnight fast the night before the test.

How long does the capsule stay in my body?
Typically, the capsule will pass anywhere from one to three days after its ingestion. The capsule is disposable.

What are the benefits of the procedure?
Prior to the availability of video capsule endoscopy, there were no effective non-invasive ways to visualize the small intestine.  Clinical studies have shown the video capsule endoscopy to be the most effective, non-invasive way to visualize the small intestine. The procedure is painless and requires no sedation.

Are there any risks?
In one percent of cases, the capsule may take extended periods of time to pass. The capsule does not obstruct the intestine. Pain may develop if a capsule passes though a tight narrowing. This is usually transient.

Why should I come to St. Elizabeth's to have the procedure done?
St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center has physicians experienced in performing video capsule endoscopy and interpreting the results. St. Elizabeth’s was one of the first sites in the United States to develop the clinical use of the technology and continues with a cutting-edge research program testing the newest capsule that is designed to examine the esophagus. If a problem is found, we have GI specialists who can treat inflammatory bowel diseases and other GI diseases.

Gastroenterology Services
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center

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