Endoscopy is a way of looking inside the body. Endoscopy is often done with a tube put into the body that the doctor can use to look inside.
Another way to look inside is to put a camera in a capsule (capsule endoscopy). This capsule includes one or two tiny cameras, a light bulb, a battery, and a radio transmitter.
It is about the size of a large vitamin pill. The person swallows the capsule, and it takes pictures all the way through the digestive (gastrointestinal) tract.
- The radio transmitter sends the photos to a recorder the person wears on their waist or shoulder.
- A technician downloads the photos from the recorder to a computer, and the doctor looks at them.
- The camera comes out and is flushed down the toilet safely.
How the Test is Performed
This test can be started in the doctor’s office.
- The capsule is the size of a large vitamin pill, about an inch (2.5 centimeters) long and less than ½ inch (1.3 centimeters) wide. Each capsule is used only once.
- The health care provider may ask you to lie down or sit up while swallowing the capsule. Capsule endoscope will have a slippery coating, so it is easier to swallow.
The capsule is not digested or absorbed. It travels through the digestive system following the same path food travels. It leaves the body in a bowel movement and can be flushed down the toilet without harming the plumbing.
The recorder will be placed on your waist or shoulder. Sometimes a few antenna patches may also be put on your body. During the test, the small light on a recorder will blink. If it stops blinking, call your provider.
The capsule may be in your body for several hours or several days. Everyone is different.
- Most of the time, the capsule leaves the body within 24 hours. Flush the capsule down the toilet.
- If you do not see the capsule in the toilet within two weeks of swallowing it, tell your provider. You may need an x-ray to see if the capsule is still in your body.