Capsule Endoscopy

What is capsule endoscopy?

Video capsule endoscopy is a painless and non-invasive diagnostic procedure. It uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures inside your digestive tract.

How it works

You will swallow a vitamin-sized capsule which contains the camera.

As the capsule travels along the oesophagus (food pipe) to the stomach and small intestine, it captures tens of thousands of images. These images are recorded on a hard disk you wear on a belt around your waist.

Your doctor will study the images to find any disorders or abnormalities of the small intestine. The pill is passed out with your faeces.

Why do you need a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is useful for studying the small intestine which is harder to reach using conventional endoscopy procedures. Your doctor may recommend a capsule endoscopy to:

  • Find the cause and location of bleeding in the small intestine
  • Diagnose tumours along the digestive tract
  • Diagnose inflammatory bowel disease of the small intestine
  • Find the cause of your symptoms, e.g. frequent and long-lasting abdominal pain and diarrhoea

Who should not undergo a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy may not be recommended if you:

  • Have swallowing difficulties. There is also a risk of it going into your windpipe.
  • Are pregnant, as there are insufficient studies on the safety of this procedure for expectant mothers.
  • Have implanted devices like pacemakers or defibrillators. These devices may affect the recording device, although newer studies show this may no longer be an issue.
  • Have indications of a small intestinal obstruction. You will not be offered a capsule endoscopy for fear of the capsule getting stuck in the intestine.

What are the risks and complications of capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a safe and low-risk procedure. However, there is a very small risk of the capsule getting stuck in your digestive tract. This may happen if there is a narrowing in your digestive tract due to conditions such as:

  • Inflammation from an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease
  • Tumours or large polyps
  • Previous surgery or injury at the abdomen

Even if the capsule is stuck, it will usually pass in a bowel movement on its own. However, if it causes symptoms of bowel obstruction (e.g. abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting), your doctor may recommend removing it surgically or through a conventional endoscopy.

Why choose Mount Elizabeth Hospitals?

At Mount Elizabeth Hospitals in Singapore, we are committed to your care and comfort. Our experienced gastroenterology specialists are supported by modern facilities and a dedicated team of nurses. We cater to a wide range of conditions related to the stomach and digestive system and will guide you through the capsule endoscopy procedure with your comfort and well-being in mind.

Our gastroenterologists and general surgeons

Mount Elizabeth Hospitals have a team of skilled and experienced gastro specialists and general surgeons to treat digestive conditions. Using diagnostic tests and treatments that offer greater precision, we focus on your comfort and long-term gut health.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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