Do I Need a Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy?

A small bowel capsule endoscopy is an innovative diagnostic tool that allows your physician to get a very clear view of your digestive tract. In addition to being used to identify problems in the area of the intestinal tract where it is difficult to reach with an upper or lower GI endoscopy, it has been approved for use in evaluating the esophagus. It is often used to help locate an intestinal bleed that cannot be found using a traditional lower GI endoscopy or colonoscopy.

What Is a Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy?

A small bowel capsule endoscopy requires you to swallow a small capsule. The capsule, which is around the size of a multivitamin, actually contains a tiny camera capable of taking thousands of pictures per second. As the camera moves along your digestive tract, it takes pictures throughout the entire digestive system. These pictures are recorded and stored on a storage device that you carry with you or wear on your waist. The thousands of images that are captured as the pill-size camera travels through your system are then analyzed by your medical team to help determine where the intestinal bleeding is happening, or to diagnose certain intestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, as well as to identify and diagnose cancer.

Is It Safe to Swallow the Capsule?

For most people, the small bowel capsule endoscopy is a very safe procedure for most people. If you’ve had previous surgeries or a narrowing in your digestive tract, your physician may do a CT scan first. Occasionally, a capsule will become lodged, but should pass with time. Only rarely is surgery required to remove the capsule. You should let your doctor know about any medications you take and follow the instructions for the procedure carefully.

If you believe you may need a small bowel capsule endoscopy, the first step is to consult with a skilled NYC gastroenterologist. Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) is home to top board-certified gastroenterology physicians, with extensive experience in digestive disease diagnosis and treatment. Call (212) 979-3237 or use the form on this page to learn more about our GI services and treatments.

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