Video Capsule Endoscopy

What is Video Capsule Endoscopy?

Video capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive procedure used to visualize the small intestine. It involves swallowing a small, disposable capsule containing a miniature camera that captures images as it passes through your digestive tract. After it's swallowed, the capsule travels through the digestive tract. The camera takes thousands of pictures that are sent to a recorder worn on a belt around the waist.

Why would I need this?

Video capsule endoscopy is used to diagnose conditions such as Crohn's disease, small intestinal tumors, unexplained anemia, or unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding that may not be detected by traditional endoscopic procedures.

Your Doctor might refer you to Doctor Patel for a video capsule endoscopy procedure to:

  • Find the cause of bleeding in the small intestine. This is the most common reason for doing capsule endoscopy.
  • Diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases. Capsule endoscopy can find the irritated and inflamed areas in the small intestine in diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Diagnose cancer. Capsule endoscopy can show tumors in the small intestine or other parts of the digestive tract.
  • Diagnose celiac disease. Capsule endoscopy is sometimes used in diagnosing and watching this immune reaction to eating gluten.
  • Look at the esophagus. Capsule endoscopy can review the muscular tube that connects the mouth and the stomach, called the esophagus. This is to look for veins that have gotten larger, called varices.
  • Screen for polyps. Certain syndromes that run in families can cause polyps in the small intestine. A capsule endoscopy can check for these polyps.
  • Do follow-up testing after X-rays or other imaging tests. If the results of an imaging test are unclear, a capsule endoscopy might get more information.

What happens during the Video Capsule Endoscopy?

During video capsule endoscopy, you will swallow the capsule with water while wearing a sensor belt around your waist or carry like a purse. The camera captures images as it passes through your digestive tract over several hours.

What should I prepare for the procedure?

Before video capsule endoscopy, you may need to follow dietary restrictions and fasting instructions.

Doctor Patel will ask you to:

  • Stop smoking 24 hours before the test.
  • Drink clear liquids the day before the procedure, such as colorless sports drinks, apple juice or other beverages you can see through when they are in a glass.
  • Take 2 dulcolax tablets, around 8 p.m. the night before the test, to clean your digestive tract so the camera can see the surfaces of your intestines.
  • Fast after midnight the night before your procedure (don’t eat or drink anything, even water).
  • Skip breakfast the day of the procedure. You can have clear liquids 2 hours after swallowing the capsule and resume your normal diet 4 hours after swallowing the capsule.
  • Disclose your medications. Tell your doctor about any medications you take. The doctor may provide instructions for when to take them so they do not interfere with the test. You may be able to take important medicines two hours before the test, or your doctor may ask you to wait several hours after you swallow the camera capsule.

What happens after the procedure?

After the capsule passes through your digestive tract and is expelled in your stool, you can resume your normal activities and diet. Doctor Patel will review the images captured by the capsule and discuss the findings with you.


Kumkum Patel MD, MPH

Board-certified Gastroenterologist.
IBS and Motility Specialist

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