Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule EndoscopyCapsule endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that gastroenterologists use to see your digestive tract. This state-of-the-art tool allows doctors to diagnose and treat disorders of the small intestines. Early detection is important to the treatment of many GI disorders, so effective diagnostic procedures like capsule endoscopy are very important tools.

Cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, capsule endoscopy requires patients to simply swallow a pill that has a tiny wireless camera. It passes through the intestines by gravity. The patient also wears a belt with a receiver that captures the thousands of images taken of your small intestines that your doctor will later review.

How Does the Capsule Work?

Capsule endoscopy is an innovative, non-invasive method to visualize problems of the small intestine. The capsule measures 1.1 cm x 2.6 cm, and it contains one or two video chips (cameras), a light bulb, a battery, and a radio transmitter. Patients schedule an appointment with one of our GI doctors to show up to their office and swallow the capsule.

As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, it rapidly takes thousands of photographs, which are subsequently transmitted to a recorder that you wear on a belt around your waist. The camera transmits two images per second. Over an eight-hour period, the capsule generates more than 50,000 pictures of the small intestine.

At the end of the procedure, about 8 hours later, patients return to our offices so the photographs can be downloaded from the receiver into a computer. Our gastroenterologists review these images so that they can make their diagnosis.

Finally, the capsule is passed by the patient into the toilet and flushed away.

What GI Diseases Are Found Using Capsule Endoscopy?

The following diseases and conditions can be diagnoses with capsule endoscopy:

  • Angiodysplasias
  • Small intestinal tumors (lymphoma, carcinoid tumor, etc.)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease and other malabsorbtion disorders
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Intestinal tract bleeding

Do I Need to Prepare for a Capsule Endoscopy?

Yes, your preparation is somewhat similar but much easier than that of a colonoscopy. For the best results during capsule endoscopy procedures and other endoscopic exams, patients take laxatives to clear the intestines of residual food and bacterial debris. Other than that, you need only the ability to swallow a vitamin-sized pill when you show up to your capsule endoscopy appointment.

Is the Capsule Endoscopy Covered by Insurance?

Almost all insurance carriers classify capsule endoscopy as a necessary diagnostic tool for patients. If our gastroenterologists believe that capsule endoscopy is a necessary for you to undergo, our helpful office staff will submit for prior authorization from your insurance carrier. If your insurance does not cover the procedure or you don’t have insurance, the office staff will offer cash pricing options for you.

Contact One of Our Gastroenterologists

If you are interested in learning more about capsule endoscopy or any of the other procedures we offer in the La Peer Health Systems Digestive Disease Program, please feel free to contact us. You may also reach us by phone at (855) 360-9119, just ask to speak with someone from the Department of Gastroenterology, or contact our Beverly Hills GI doctors.

Next, read about Colonoscopy.