Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. A capsule endoscopy camera sits inside a vitamin-size capsule you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist.
Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine — an area that isn't easily reached with more-traditional endoscopy procedures. Traditional endoscopy involves passing a long, flexible tube equipped with a video camera down your throat or through your rectum.
Why it's done
Your doctor might recommend a capsule endoscopy procedure to:
Find the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding. The most common reason for doing capsule endoscopy is to explore unexplained bleeding in the small intestine.
Diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease. Capsule endoscopy can reveal areas of inflammation in the small intestine.
Diagnose cancer. Capsule endoscopy can show tumors in the small intestine or other parts of the digestive tract.
Diagnose celiac disease. Capsule endoscopy is sometimes used in diagnosing and monitoring this immune reaction to eating gluten.
Examine your esophagus. Capsule endoscopy has also been approved to evaluate the muscular tube that connects your mouth and your stomach (esophagus) to look for abnormal, enlarged veins (varices).
Screen for polyps. People who have inherited syndromes that can cause polyps in the small intestine might occasionally undergo capsule endoscopy.
Do follow-up testing after X-rays or other imaging tests. If the results of an imaging test are unclear or inconclusive, your doctor might recommend a capsule endoscopy to get more information.