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Video Capsule Endoscopy - Topic Overview

What is video capsule endoscopy?

Video capsule endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to examine your small intestine for sources of bleeding. It may be especially helpful for diagnosing Crohn's disease.

How is it done?

For this procedure, you swallow a capsule that is less than an inch long (about 23 millimeters). A technician attaches sensors to your chest and connects them to a data recorder that you wear on a belt around your waist. The capsule contains a tiny video camera. As the capsule travels through your gastrointestinal tract, the camera takes pictures and sends them to the data recorder. After 8 hours, the technician removes the data recorder and looks at the pictures. The capsule passes out of your body in the stool in a day or two.

What are the advantages?

Video capsule endoscopy is becoming popular because it has several advantages over traditional endoscopy:

  • It can show the entire small intestine and thus may be better at finding sources of bleeding.
  • It is not invasive. In traditional endoscopy, a thin, lighted tube is inserted down your throat.
  • It is painless, so you do not need to take pain medicine.
  • You do not have to stay in the hospital.
  • You have to fast for 12 hours before swallowing the capsule, but it does not require other preparation.

When should it not be used?

Video capsule endoscopy is generally safe and well tolerated. But it should not be used if you are known to have intestinal obstructions or narrowing (strictures) or abnormal connections or openings between two organs or parts of the body (fistulas).

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 08, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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