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Swallow a What? What to Expect If You Need a Capsule Endoscopy

Swallow a What? What to Expect If You Need a Capsule Endoscopy

Endoscopies revolutionized the field of gastroenterology by allowing doctors to see inside their patients without surgery. The earliest iterations in the mid-1800s used a rudimentary system of tubular speculums, candlelight, and mirrors, but they inspired today’s modern marvels that deliver clear digital images of the digestive tract.

At Northside Gastroenterology Associates, in Katy and Cypress, Texas, Dr. Ayub Hussein and our team of experts rely on endoscopies to diagnose and monitor treatment of a wide range of gastrointestinal issues. 

There are several types of endoscopy procedures, and, traditionally, they all involve a tiny camera at the tip of a long, slender probe that’s inserted into either your mouth or anus — until now. The capsule endoscopy is a game-changer that does away with the intrusive tubes. Here’s what you can expect.

How a capsule endoscopy works

A capsule endoscopy uses the working end of a traditional endoscopy — the camera — and eliminates the uncomfortable probes. To get the camera into your body, you swallow it. But don’t gag at the thought; it’s a tiny wireless camera about the size of a small vitamin. 

Once you swallow it, it takes pictures at regular intervals as it passes through your small intestine. You wear a recording device around your waist during the capsule’s journey (about eight hours). Once the test is complete, we take a look at the recorded images and analyze them along with other clinical data, including your health history and your symptoms.

How a capsule endoscopy feels

The capsule endoscopy is completely painless. In fact, most patients don’t feel a thing when they swallow the small pill-sized camera, and you certainly won’t feel any sensations as it travels through your system.

Before your capsule endoscopy, Dr. Hussein may instruct you to fast for about eight hours to make sure your stomach is empty. You may also need to stop taking medications before and during the test. 

Depending on the time of your appointment, you may stay here at our office for the duration of the test so we can remove the recording device at the end, or you may wear it home and bring it back the next day. 

During the test, you’ll need to continue fasting for the first two hours, at which point you can drink clear liquids. At the four-hour mark, you can eat and drink normally. 

While the capsule is in your system, it’s very important that you do not undergo an MRI, and you should also avoid ham radios and metal detectors. Don’t plan on participating in any strenuous workouts during the test, and make sure you keep the recording device dry.

After your capsule endoscopy

Once the capsule has run the course of your system, it leaves naturally as all waste does. There’s no need to look for it or retrieve it — we don’t need it back. Most people don’t even notice it as it passes in the stool and flushes away in the toilet.

Who needs a capsule endoscopy?

Dr. Hussein may order a capsule endoscopy if you have symptoms of:

If you have unexplained abdominal pain or bleeding, you may need a capsule endoscopy to explore the problem and find the cause. 

If you’re experiencing pain, abnormal bowel movements, or digestive troubles, schedule a consultation with Dr. Hussein today. Call us or book online and find out if a capsule endoscopy can help you find the answers. 

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