Advances in medical technology, such as capsule endoscopy, are making it easier for doctors to diagnose various health issues. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, offer advanced imaging with capsule endoscopy to get a better view of your digestive tract to confirm or rule out various gastrointestinal conditions. To learn more about capsule endoscopy, call the office today or book an appointment online.
Sometimes called a PillCam™ study, a capsule endoscopy is a test ordered by your gastroenterologist where a pill-sized video capsule is ingested by the patient. Adhesive patches are placed on your abdomen, and these contain antennas and wires which are connected to a recorder. As the capsule goes through your digestive system, the camera with a light source sends color pictures to the antennas on the patches. These pictures are electronically stored and then viewed by your gastroenterologist.
Capsule endoscopy is a highly effective way to look at areas of the gastrointestinal tract that may not be easily seen by standard endoscopy.
A PillCam study takes about eight hours. You’ll know it’s finished when you see the camera capsule in your bowel movement. Once the capsule is seen, the test is complete, and the patches can be removed from your abdomen and the recorder brought to your gastroenterologist to be analyzed. If for any reason you do not see the capsule in your stool after about two weeks, please contact your gastroenterologist.
It’s best if you have nothing to eat or drink within 12 hours of ingesting the capsule. It is important to discuss all of your medical conditions and medicines with your gastroenterologist. Devices such as cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator are important to know about prior to the ingestion of the capsule.
Also, any abdominal surgery or history of bowel obstruction needs to be known before the capsule is ingested. If you have inflammatory bowel disease or other causes of intestinal strictures, abdominal hernias, or previous adhesive disease, it’s very important to try to prevent the capsule from getting stuck.
Capsule endoscopy is typically a safe, painless, and comfortable procedure. Once the capsule is ingested, it is transmitted through the gastrointestinal tract usually without symptoms.
At the end of the procedure when the pill camera is passed through the stool, you can consider it over, and you can remove the adhesive bandages from your abdomen. You need to bring the recorder to your gastroenterologist to allow the pictures to be reviewed.
Typically, there are no limitations once the capsule has been ingested. Normal daily activity can be resumed.
Of note, once the pill camera is ingested, you cannot be near or have an MRI examination during your PillCam study. True consumption can typically occur after about four hours from the beginning of the study. Strenuous physical activity or exercise should not be performed during the PillCam study as this may obscure the saved images during the study.
PillCam studies are generally safe and well-tolerated, and patients are usually quite comfortable. The greatest risk from a PillCam study is the possibility of obstruction, so it is imperative that your doctor knows about any previous abdominal surgery or medical illnesses such as endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, or abdominal adhesions. If you have any evidence of obstruction with signs of fevers, chills, nausea, vomiting, or bleeding, you need to call your physician immediately.
PillCam endoscopy is very useful in diagnosing conditions such as cancer, causes of gastrointestinal bleeding, and inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or small bowel polyps.
The purpose of the PillCam test is to try to investigate those parts of the digestive tract that are hard to visualize. Radiographic studies, such as small bowel follow throughs, can be of some help in diagnosing bowel conditions; however, flat lesions such as small blood vessels may easily be missed. Endoscopy of the small bowel can be used as well, but this requires sedation and X-ray monitoring.
To learn more about PillCam endoscopy, please call Edmunds Gastroenterology and schedule your appointment today, or book your visit online.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.