Capsule endoscopy (en DOS-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. It is primarily designed for the small intestine or esophagus. The procedure may be used to discover a source of bleeding suspected to be in the small bowel, diagnose Crohn's disease or screen for Barrett's change of the esophagus.
For the procedure you will swallow a small capsule, about the size of a glucosamine tablet. It will transmit images to a storage device that you wear. Right before the procedure the nurse will attach a sensor array to your chest (esophageal capsule) or abdomen (small bowel capsule) using sticky pads similar to those used for an EKG of your heart. Next, you'll wear a vest containing a small hard drive and batteries. The capsule transmits images of the esophagus or small bowel to the hard drive in the vest over the course of 8 hours. The physician can carefully examine the images, checking the lining of the organs. The capsule takes two pictures each second for up to 8 hours. In these pictures, the physician can see abnormalities such as angioectasia, ulcers and tumors that may not show up well on x-rays. The physician then uses special software to create and review a movie of the images the tiny capsule records.
You begin this high tech but completely painless test in the morning, leave the physician's office, and return in the afternoon to drop off the vest. The capsule does not need to be removed; it passes naturally in the next few days. No biopsies or treatments can currently be performed. A possible but very uncommon complication of capsule endoscopy is capsule retention. This occurs rarely in patients with intestinal strictures, either from past inflammatory intestinal diseases or bowel resections. Most people will not notice the capsule at all. No sedation is needed.
For more information or to schedule an appointment or referral, call 919.938.4404.
Jordan Digestive Diagnostic Center
649 Guy Road
Clayton, NC 27520