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How do you prepare for a capsule endoscopy?

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Quick Answer

To prepare for a capsule endoscopy, follow the doctor's instructions for restricting food and beverages, which typically involves not eating or drinking during the 12-hour period before the procedure, states Mayo Clinic. Stop taking any specified medications to prevent camera interference, and make plans to stay home from work and avoid strenuous activity if necessary. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe a laxative to clear out your small intestine to increase the accuracy of the images.

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Full Answer

A capsule endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that uses a pill-size video camera to capture images of the small intestine's interior, explains the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. The duodenum, ileum and jejunum sections of the gastrointestinal tract are difficult to access by other means, so you must wear a recording device and swallow a capsule camera containing a light source. This procedure is beneficial for diagnosing Crohn's disease, ulcers, polyps and tumors.

Depending on the type of recording device, the doctor uses adhesive patches to attach antennas to your abdomen, according to Mayo Clinic. Connected wires transmit data to the recorder, which stores the images from the capsule camera. The process is considered low risk, and food and beverages are typically allowed a few hours after you swallow the pill. The camera usually travels through the digestive system within eight hours and exits during a bowel movement. Rarely, complications may occur if the gastrointestinal tract contains any obstructions, such as tumors.

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