Capsule endoscopy takes pictures of your digestive tract using a small wireless camera. The camera is placed in a vitamin-sized capsule which is meant to be swallowed. This procedure provides doctors with an advanced option for viewing what’s going on inside the small intestine.
The camera begins to take thousands of pictures as soon as it moves through the digestive tract. Later, the pictures get transmitted to a recorder, which you’ll be wearing on a belt around your waist. There are many advantages of a capsule endoscopy compared to the traditional endoscopy process. The capsule moves easily through the system and takes clear, effective pictures.
You’re also spared from having to endure having a long flexible tube fed through your throat or rectum.
So how do you prepare? Though individual instructions may differ, here are a few things your doctor may ask you to do, both prior to and during the test:
- Don’t eat or drink for up to 12 hours prior to the procedure to ensure the camera can take clear pictures throughout the entire digestive tract.
- You may have to stop taking some medications before the process begins. But double check. Doctors may also tell you to take your medication two hours before or after swallowing the camera capsule.
- Take it easy on the day of the procedure. Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
- Tell your doctor about your job. Let your doctor know whether it’s okay to go to work that day.
- Do not bend, stoop, or lie flat while the test is underway.
- You may be asked to take a laxative prior to the procedure to flush out your small intestine. Again, this helps the camera get better photos.
- If you’re a smoker you may be asked to stop smoking 24 hours before the procedure.
- Do not remove the belt during the procedure.
The capsule endoscopy procedure will take approximately eight hours or so to get completed; your doctor will inform you when the process is over.
An experienced doctor from the Memorial Hermann North Houston Endoscopy and Surgery center explains that it’s the patient’s responsibility to make sure that he or she follows his or her doctor’s instructions to the letter. This will help ensure the test provides the best results. If you don’t understand something, be sure to ask. Failing to follow instructions to the letter may require you to reschedule the test.