Video capsule endoscopy is a painless and non-invasive diagnostic procedure. It uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures inside your digestive tract.
How it works
You will swallow a vitamin-sized capsule which contains the camera.
As the capsule travels along the oesophagus (food pipe) to the stomach and small intestine, it captures tens of thousands of images. These images are recorded on a hard disk you wear on a belt around your waist.
Your doctor will study the images to find any disorders or abnormalities of the small intestine. The pill is passed out with your faeces.
Why do you need a capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is useful for studying the small intestine which is harder to reach using conventional endoscopy procedures. Your doctor may recommend a capsule endoscopy to:
Find the cause and location of bleeding in the small intestine
Diagnose tumours along the digestive tract
Diagnose inflammatory bowel disease of the small intestine
Find the cause of your symptoms, e.g. frequent and long-lasting abdominal pain and diarrhoea
Who should not undergo a capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy may not be recommended if you:
Have swallowing difficulties. There is also a risk of it going into your windpipe.
Are pregnant, as there are insufficient studies on the safety of this procedure for expectant mothers.
Have implanted devices like pacemakers or defibrillators. These devices may affect the recording device, although newer studies show this may no longer be an issue.
Have indications of a small intestinal obstruction. You will not be offered a capsule endoscopy for fear of the capsule getting stuck in the intestine.
What are the risks and complications of capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a safe and low-risk procedure. However, there is a very small risk of the capsule getting stuck in your digestive tract. This may happen if there is a narrowing in your digestive tract due to conditions such as:
Inflammation from an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease
Tumours or large polyps
Previous surgery or injury at the abdomen
Even if the capsule is stuck, it will usually pass in a bowel movement on its own. However, if it causes symptoms of bowel obstruction (e.g. abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting), your doctor may recommend removing it surgically or through a conventional endoscopy.
How do you prepare for a capsule endoscopy?
To help the camera capture clearer images during a capsule endoscopy, your doctor may ask you to:
Refrain from eating and drinking at least 12 hours before the procedure
Take a laxative to flush out your small intestine
Stop taking certain medications
What can you expect in a capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a simple procedure. You can go about your day as the capsule travels through your digestive tract.
The procedure takes about 8 hours to complete, or when the camera is expelled during your bowel movement.
Before the procedure
Your doctor will ask you to wear a recorder on a sensor belt around your waist.
During the procedure
You will swallow the capsule with water. You should not be able to feel the capsule after you have swallowed it.
It is best to avoid strenuous physical activity during the procedure. Follow your doctor's instructions on activities you can do, when to resume drinking and eating, and when to remove the recorder.
After the procedure
Your body might expel the camera within hours or days. If the camera is not passed out in your stools within 2 weeks, let your doctor know.
Why choose Gleneagles Hospital?
For more than 60 years in Singapore, Gleneagles Hospital has been providing trusted healthcare with the needs of our patients in mind. We combine our gastroenterology expertise with technology to provide you with the care and treatment you need to relieve your symptoms and regain your gut health.
The Endoscopy Centre at Gleneagles Hospital is designed with larger spaces, improved privacy and more facilities to provide a comfortable experience during your capsule endoscopy procedure.
Our gastroenterologists and general surgeons
Gleneagles Hospital's gastro specialists and general surgeons have the experience and expertise to treat simple to complex conditions of the digestive system. We are committed to placing your needs first and will advise you on the most appropriate endoscopic procedure to diagnose and treat your condition.