Video capsule endoscopy : definition and technique

Videocapsule endoscopy is the latest in cutting-edge technology allowing direct visualization of the small bowel and large bowell which could previously only be seen by surgical techniques. The capsule does provide the unique ability to film the lining of the small intestine well beyond the reach of the standard endoscope or enteroscope which at best may only examine the first 3-6 feet of the small intestine. However, the capsule will examine the entire length (approx. 20 ft) of the small bowel. Early studies have shown a 6070% success rate in identifying the source of bleeding in the intestinal tract where standard diagnostic tests had failed.

Videocapsule endoscopy is a gastroenterological imaging technique used to visualise the small intestines. After oral ingestion of a small capsule, containing a camera, videochip and lightsource, multiple sequential pictures are taken. These pictures can be assessed by a specialised nurse and physician in order to detect intestinal diseases.


The capsule is a small camera about the size of a vitamin capsule. It emits a light and takes two pictures per second as it traverses the gastrointestinal tract. The pill is easily swallowed after a modified diet on the previous day and an overnight fast. Receiving sensors are taped to the abdomen and the receiver and battery pack are worn around the waist. Once the setup is confirmed to be functional (approximately after 20 minutes), the individual is free to leave the office and participate in most of their usual activities.


After two hours, clear liquids may be taken. A light snack may be taken four hours after ingestion of the capsule. Detailed diet instructions will be provided prior to your procedure. After twelve hours, the individual returns to the referral hospital or is visited by the special nurse.

The receiver and battery pack are removed in 20 minutes time. The capsule will eventually be excreted in the stool and is not reusable. It is important to avoid any areas with strong magnetic fields while the capsule is transmitting, as a magnetic field will shut it off. One also must refrain from going into an MRI machine until the capsule passes into the toilet, otherwise serious injury to the gastrointestinal tract may occur. Finally, the recorded images are downloaded to a computer where they are reviewed by a specialized nurse and gastroenterologist. Your treating physician will be informed within 72 hours and receives an official report including a medical advice.