The capsule is the size and shape of a pill (1.1 cm wide and 2.6 cm long, weight: 3.7g) and contains a tiny camera, image sensor, RF transmitter, and precision batteries (see above picture). The small intestine used to be regarded as the blind spot of examination by traditional GI endoscopy. Capsule endoscopy has higher detection rate of complete gastrointestinal tracts when compared to other types of endoscopy. On July 2, 2003 the FDA approved the capsule endoscopy as a first line tool in the detection of abnormalities of the small intestine. Capsule endoscopy is a relatively simple and non-invasive test for the patient, it won’t make patient feel uncomfortable and scarfed during the endoscopy. The patient can continue normal daily activities when undergoing a capsule endoscopy. The capsule is a single-use disposable endoscopy, thus there is no risk of cross-contamination. The capsule endoscopy can be used to examine the lesion that cannot be detected by traditional GI endoscopy.
▸ When to do capsule endoscopy?
The capsule endoscopy can be used to examine the suspected lesion in the small intestine that cannot be detected by traditional GI endoscopy. The majority parts of small intestine can be seen with capsule endoscopy. It can detect the angiodysplasia in the lesion, small intestine cancer, diverticula of intestine, parasites, and small intestinal mucosal lesion. These lesions will lead to chronic anemia due to the hemorrhage in small intestine and abdominal pain.
▸ What are the contraindications for capsule endoscopy?
It is unwise to use capsule endoscopy (CE) in patients with swallowing disorders and intestinal mobility disorders or intestinal obstruction, due to the risk of capsule retention. Capsule endoscopy transfers the captured images wirelessly to an external receiver worn by the patient using one of appropriate frequency bands. Although there are no side effects reported, capsule endoscopy is not recommended for patients with pacemaker and pregnant women. The safety of capsule endoscopy in pediatric patient under age of 10 has not been established.
▸ How to use capsule endoscopy?
Patients are required to start fasting the day before the capsule endoscopy examination. The video capsule is swallowed with water and passes naturally through your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a recorder that patients will wear close to their waist. The capsule then passes harmlessly from the body through a normal bowel movement. Patients won’t feel any pain or discomfort. Capsule endoscopy takes pictures of digestive tracts twice to 14 times per second while passing through esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. The capsule usually passes through feces within 24–48 hours. Capsule endoscopy transfers the captured images wirelessly to an external recorder worn by the patient. The collected images are then transferred to a computer for diagnosis, review and display. Capsule endoscopy helps physicians to find out the lesion and problems that other diagnostic and monitoring methods are unable to view.