In a capsule endoscopy procedure, the patient swallows a pill-sized camera, according to Mayo Clinic. The patient may wear a belted recorder pack containing wires that are applied to the abdomen with adhesive. The capsule camera travels along the digestive tract, capturing images for eight to 12 hours.
Prior to the test, patients are typically required to forgo consuming foods and liquids for about 12 hours, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy notes. The physician may also provide special instructions or arrangements if the patient currently has medication or medical equipment that could interfere with the procedure. In some cases, the doctor may recommend a preliminary bowel cleansing, enabling the camera to capture the most accurate images. The capsule is naturally excreted from the body, and the physician retrieves the recorder to transfer the images to a computer.
A capsule endoscopy allows physicians to thoroughly examine the interior of the small intestine, which can't be accessed comfortably using a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy procedure, according to ASGE. The test helps physicians observe and evaluate health complications, such as Crohn's disease, polyps, tumors, ulcers and internal bleeding. Individuals can usually continue their normal routine during this outpatient procedure and only need to avoid strenuous physical activity, such as running. In rare cases, the capsule camera can become stuck in an inflamed or constricted bowel, requiring professional care.