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Capsule Endoscopy

How to Prepare | What to Expect On Arrival | What to Expect After | For More Information

Capsule endoscopy allows for the examination of the small intestine, also called the small bowel. By using a vitamin-pill size video capsule containing a camera and light source, it enables your physician to examine the three portions of the small intestine: duodenum, jejunum and ileum. As the capsule travels naturally through your intestinal tract, images are sent to a data recorder that is worn around the waist.

A small bowel capsule endoscopy procedure is used to determine the cause of recurrent or persistent symptoms when other diagnostic procedures such as upper endoscopy and colonoscopy fail to provide a definitive reason for your symptoms. Your gastroenterologist may recommend a capsule endoscopy procedure if you have:

  • unexplained bleeding
  • anemia due to low iron stores
  • diarrhea
  • suspicion of other small bowel diseases

This procedure is generally contraindicated in patients who have a history or symptoms suggesting a bowel obstruction. It may be avoided or require special monitoring for those with a defibrillator. It is also not advised for women who are pregnant.

How to Prepare for Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy

  • Start a liquid diet for lunch and dinner the day before the procedure.
  • No food or drink by mouth after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • You can, however, take your regular medications with sips of water up until two hours prior to the procedure.
  • Please verify with your insurance company coverage of this procedure under your medical plan.

What to Expect Once You Arrive for Capsule Endoscopy

  • Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled exam time.
  • Consent form will be reviewed.
  • You will be asked to wear a "utility belt" that houses the data recorder and battery pack.
  • Adhesive pads attached to conductive leads (similar to EKG leads) will be placed strategically on your abdomen and be connected to a data recorder. The utility belt must be worn for approximately 8-12 hours to gather sufficient data and diagnostic information. The data recorder and battery pack will feel warm as the time elapses.
  • You will be asked to swallow the capsule to begin the study.
  • You will usually be allowed to have clear liquids 2 hours after swallowing the capsule and a light lunch 4 hours afterwards. Medications may also be resumed 3 hours after the procedure.
  • When the data recorder is receiving images, a blue light blinks continually. You should visually check that the light is blinking approximately every 15 minutes.

What to Expect After Capsule Endoscopy

  • Avoid any powerful electromagnetic fields. If you require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) it is imperative that you wait until the capsule is excreted and undergo an x-ray to confirm that the capsule has left your body.
  • Please return to the NorthShore GI Lab 8-12 hours after ingesting the capsule for equipment removal.
  • After removal of the equipment, you may return home and resume all normal activities and diet.
  • You don't need to collect the capsule—it can be safely flushed down the toilet.
  • Results will generally be available within 24 to 72 hours.
  • You will be instructed to call your primary care physician for the results.

For More Information

The small bowel capsule endoscopy procedure is available at all of our GI Lab locations. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an advanced endoscopist, please call 847.570.2030.

NorthShore offers interpretive language services for non-English speaking patients. A request for this no-cost service should be made at the time of appointment scheduling.