Capsule Endoscopy

What is a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure with a camera that sits inside a vitamin-sized capsule. The capsule is swallowed and travels through your digestive tract, taking pictures that are transmitted to a recorder. Your doctor uploads the data from the recorder using a system that combines pictures into a video. These visualizations help identify problems in the digestive tract and formulate a diagnosis.

Why is the capsule endoscopy procedure used?

If other imaging tests were unuseful or unclear, your doctor may recommend a capsule endoscopy as a follow-up to test for:
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding of the upper GI tract and small intestine
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cancer of the upper GI tract and small intestine
  • Celiac disease
  • Polyps of the upper GI tract and small intestine
The camera capsule endoscopy does not evaluate the colon (large intestine).

How do you prepare for your capsule endoscopy?

Do not eat for at least 12 hours before your capsule endoscopy and stop taking certain medications. Discuss all preparations for the procedure with your doctor or nursing staff. Be sure your doctor knows if you have a pacemaker, swallowing disorder, or stricture of the small bowel, as these may be relative contraindications to routine capsule testing.

What happens after the capsule endoscopy?

You can go home after you swallow the capsule and perform most of your daily activities. You will not feel the capsule as it moves through your digestive tract. Be sure to:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise, sudden stops, and bending or jarring movements.
  • Avoid MRI machines, ham radios, and strong magnetic fields (such as those in airport/government building security areas) until the capsule is no longer in your body. You can use computers and phones safely.

Resume eating and drinking. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on returning to your regular diet. The instructions will be similar to the following:

    • First four hours after swallowing the capsule: nothing by mouth
    • Four to six hours after swallowing the capsule: water only
    • Six to eight hours after swallowing the capsule: full liquids, including broth and fruit juice
    • Eight hours after swallowing the capsule, a light snack


Return the equipment. Depending on the type of capsule endoscopy you were prescribed, your doctor will provide instructions on returning the equipment and/or capsule.

 If you have any nausea, vomiting, cramps, or pain in your belly while the capsule is inside, call your doctor right away.

If capsule endoscopy leads to a diagnosis, your gastroenterologist will discuss the treatment options. More procedures, such as a biopsy or a colonoscopy, may be needed depending on the condition.