Video Capsule Endoscopy : About

What is a video capsule endoscopy?

Video capsule endoscopy is a procedure used to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The patient swallows a capsule containing a video chip, a light bulb, a battery and a radio transmitter. Leads or electrodes are places at various areas in the abdomen and they connect to a recording device. The patient wears the device for approximately eight hours. Once returned, the date recorded on the device is downloaded and interpreted by a gastroenterologist.

What are the risks?

The capsule should move through the digestive system and be expelled from the body through a bowel movement. On rare occasions, the capsule may become stuck in the intestine and require surgical removable.

Are any tests necessary prior to a video capsule endoscopy?

If there is concern for narrowing or structuring in the intestines, your doctor may order a small bowel follow-through (a complex x-ray) to access your risk. Some doctors are also using a patency capsule to access for the possibility of strictures.

What are the limitations of a video capsule endoscopy?

Some possible limitations include:
  • Some abnormalities can be missed due to poor images and rapid capsule transit times
  • If transit time is slow, the capsule may not examine the entire intestine before the battery fails
  • It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the abnormality
  • The capsule may become stuck and cause obstruction
  • Interpreting the images are time-consuming for the gastroenterologist

What disorders can be diagnosed with a video capsule endoscopy?

AVMs, small intestinal tumors and Crohn's disease can all be diagnosed using video capsule endoscopy.