Capsule Endoscopy (PillCam)

An outpatient procedure where the patient swallows and disposable, pill shaped camera, to examine for diseases of the small intestine.  Patient needs to drink a bowel preparation for this and where an transmitter on the body for 8 hours and then the images are downloaded onto a computer for viewing by a GI professional.  Typical reasons to order this test are bleeding with no source identified on EGD and colonoscopy, and inflammatory bowel disease among others. 

Capsule endoscopy can help determine the cause for gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding or anemia. It is a minimally invasive but direct way to see the entire small intestine and esophagus. During the procedure, you will swallow a vitamin sized pill that contains a very small camera. The camera takes images of your gastrointestinal tract as it moves painlessly through your body. The photos are recorded on a data recorder that you wear on your waist. You can do your regular activities during the exam which lasts approximately 8 hours. At the end of the day the photos are transmitted to a computer so your practitioner can view them and make a diagnosis. The capsule is disposable and is excreted painlessly with your normal bowel movement within 48 hours.

What can I expect during the capsule endoscopy?

Your practitioner will prepare you for the exam by applying sensors to your abdomen. The pill capsule is swallowed with water. As it passes through your digestive system photos are recorded at a rate of 2 photos per second. The photos are transmitted to a data recorder that you wear on your waist. The exam is complete approximately 8 hours after you swallow the capsule. You can continue your regular activities during the exam.

What happens after the capsule endoscopy?

After 8 hours you will return to the office to have the data recorder and sensors removed. The photos that were recorded are downloaded to a computer to be reviewed by your practitioner. You will be contacted by your practitioner with the results within one week. You should not have an MRI or be in the vicinity of an MRI machine until after the capsule endoscopy pill is excreted which usually occurs within 48 hours of ingestion, with your regular bowel movement. You should not feel any pain or discomfort when the pill is excreted.

Contact the office immediately if you experience any fever, trouble swallowing, increasing chest or abdominal pain.

How do I prepare for the capsule endoscopy?

It is extremely important that you follow these instructions. If you are unable to do so, please contact the office immediately.

1 Day Before Capsule Endoscopy

  • Eat breakfast as usual and a light lunch by 12 pm.
  • Start a strict, clear liquid diet after 12 pm.
  • At 3 pm, prepare the Golytely as instructed. Drink one 8 ounce glass every 20 minutes until you have finished ½ of the container (2 liters). You only need to drink ½ of the container.
  • Continue drinking as much clear liquid as you would like throughout the day.
  • Do not eat or drink except for necessary medication 6 hours before your capsule endoscopy.

Day of Capsule Endoscopy

  • Do not take any medications for 2 hours before the test.
  • Do not apply body lotion or powder to your abdomen or chest.
  • Wear loose fitting, 2 piece clothing.

After Swallowing the Capsule Endoscopy

The capsule endoscopy will last 8 – 9 hours. Contact the office immediately if you suffer from abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.

  • 2 hours after swallowing the pill camera you may drink colorless beverages (i.e. water, white grape juice, white cranberry juice, lemon lime soda and/or ginger ale)
  • 4 hours after swallowing the pill camera you may have a light snack
  • Check the blue flashing DataRecorder light every 15 minutes to ensure it is blinking twice per second. If it stops blinking or changes color, note the time and contact our office.
  • Use the supplied Capsule Endoscopy Event Form to track any event such as eating, drinking or a change in your activity. Bring this to with you at your appointment at the end of the day.
  • Do not disconnect the equipment or completely remove the belt at any time during the day.
  • Do not hit or bang the DataRecorder. Avoid sudden movements.
  • Avoid direct exposure to bright sunlight.

Return to the office at your scheduled appointment time.