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Capsule endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to visualise the inside of your digestive tract, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus.
A tiny wireless camera, encased in a small, pill-sized capsule, will be used to capture images of the digestive tract during the procedure. This capsule is usually swallowed and then expelled from the body in just a few days.
As it passes through the digestive tract, the camera will take photos that are transmitted to a recorder attached to a belt around your waist. Two pictures will be taken every second for eight hours.
Capsule endoscopy is necessary to gain insights not otherwise accessible with traditional endoscopies such as gastroscopy and colonoscopy. While traditional endoscopy is capable of capturing visuals of the oesophagus, stomach or large intestine, certain areas such as the small intestine are better visualised through capsule endoscopy.
If your doctor suspects a problem in the small intestine, they may suggest capsule endoscopy as an investigative tool. Most of the time, capsule endoscopy is performed to identify the cause and sources of certain health conditions as well as to diagnose diseases that occur within the small intestines.
Among the reasons that necessitate capsule endoscopy include to:
Before the advent of capsule endoscopy, it was impossible for medical professionals to observe the small intestines. This type of technology is immensely beneficial in providing visual clarity prior to undergoing more extreme measures such as deep enteroscopy or considering surgery.
Before beginning the capsule endoscopy process, you will be equipped with a sensor belt that is designed to capture and store pictures taken by the camera pill as it navigates your digestive tract.
The belt should remain on for 8-10 hours. After connecting and preparing the recorder, you will be instructed to swallow the camera capsule with water. The capsule has a slippery coating which makes swallowing very comfortable and painless.
Once the capsule is ingested, you should be able to carry on with your regular daily activities. You may need to avoid running, jumping or any strenuous activity for a short period and wait a few hours before consuming food or liquids to permit the endoscope an easy passage through your digestive system.
After the procedure, it typically takes 8-10 hours or up to 1-2 days for the capsule endoscope to be excreted naturally. Detailed instructions will be provided on how and where to remove, store or dispose of the sensors. Conveniently, you can simply flush down your toilet as it is small enough.
If the capsule is not visible within two weeks, it may be stuck. To track down its whereabouts or ensure that it has passed out in stools (but unluckily missed), additional scans such as an x-ray or CT scan might be necessary.
The imaging device worn around your waist will take pictures of your digestive tract and stitch them together to form a comprehensive video. Your doctor then uses this footage to search for any irregularities or abnormalities in the area that may have been missed by the camera.
After undergoing a capsule endoscopy, it can take up to several weeks before your doctor has enough time to carefully inspect the thousands of images that were captured. However, once they have studied them all thoroughly they will discuss the results with you in due time.
MBChB (NZ), FRACP (Australasia), MD (Doctorate), FRCP (Edinburgh), FAMS (Gastro)
Dr. John Hsiang is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience across public and private practice.
Dr. John Hsiang’s special clinical interests are in gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach conditions, fatty liver, and gastrointestinal cancer screening
Dr. John Hsiang has spent more than five years in the Singhealth cluster serving in the Gastroenterology Department at Changi General Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital.
Gastrointestinal Diseases, Endoscopy, Helicobacter Pylori infection, Viral Hepatitis, Fatty Liver Disease, Management of Abnormal Liver tests.
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