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Capsule Endoscopy is a procedure where a pill-sized video capsule is swallowed, and slowly travels through your bowels before being naturally excreted several hours later.
The capsule has its own built-in light and camera to take pictures of the walls of the bowel and detect abnormal lesions such as ulcers, tumours or abnormal blood vessels, it needs no intubation, sedation and requires no recovery time.
There are three types of capsule available: the oesophageal capsule, the small bowel capsule and the colon capsule. The small bowel capsule is used most often.
For the small bowel capsule, on the day before the procedure, breakfast and lunch are eaten as normal followed by clear fluids and then an overnight fast.
The major indication for Capsule Endoscopy is suspected small bowel abnormality, such as suspected bleeding, Crohn’s Disease, polyps or malabsorption.
The vast majority of patients have no difficulty in swallowing the 11 x 26mm capsule with water. Sensors are fixed on the front of the abdomen (like ECG electrodes) to record the images and the course of the capsule.
The capsule takes about 7-10 hours to move through the small intestine, taking two pictures per second. During this time the patient can leave the hospital and can go about a regular routine while wearing the recorder. Later, the person returns to hand over the sensors and data recorder, and the images are viewed. The disposable capsule, its battery life exhausted, spends another 24-72 hours in the large bowel before being passed (usually unnoticed) by the patient.