|Day of procedure:
We have advised for you to have an upper gastrointestinal (GI) capsule endoscopy. This was discussed at the telephone pre-assessment you have had with the Capsule Nurse Specialist.
What is a capsule endoscopy?
Upper GI capsule endoscopy (CE or pillcam) is a test which looks for abnormalities in the oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach – part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the small intestine.
An upper GI capsule endoscopy is typically used when patient cannot or does not want to undergo a conventional gastroscopy, a camera inserted into the mouth by a medical professional.
The capsule is the size of a large vitamin pill. It contains a tiny video camera at either end of a silicone chip. The capsule sends pictures to a data recorder box through sticky pad sensors attached to the skin on the abdomen. We will require you to move around to help us get the pictures needed.
Can there be complications or risks?
- There is a small risk that the procedure may need to be repeated – either due to equipment failure or if there are inadequate images.
- There is a risk in small bowel disease that the capsule can become trapped in a narrowing. This will be discussed at your telephone pre-assessment before swallowing the pill.
MRI scanning is not permitted until the pillcam has been excreted from the body.
Please tell us if you are pregnant – capsule endoscopy should not be performed during pregnancy.
If you have a cardiac pacemaker or internal electromedical device please let us know.
Preparation for the test
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
- Do not eat or drink anything in the 6 hours before the test
- Do not take any medication 6 hours before the test
- If you are diabetic or have medication that cannot be stopped for 6 hours: Your medication should have been discussed at your telephone pre-assessment clinic, if not please contact us on the details below.
How is the test done?
Before starting the test we will ask you to drink a large glass of water and sensor stickers will be applied to your abdomen.
We will then ask you to swallow the capsule with water. Someone will be with you the whole time, to help with this.
After swallowing the capsule, the bed will be tilted and we will ask you to change positions. This is to allow us to obtain the necessary views of the food pipe (oesophagus) and stomach.
After the position changes have been completed we will check the data recorder to check the position of the capsule.
In order to ensure we have a completed examination the capsule must leave the stomach and enter the first part of the small intestine. Some people require a tablet to increase movement in the stomach to encourage the capsule to move into the small intestine.
Once the capsule has entered the small intestine, the procedure is considered complete, the equipment will be removed and video downloaded. You can eat and drink again normally and will be discharged home.
The images will be reviewed by a doctor or nurse and a report written. The results can take up to 8 weeks.
The pill will pass out of your system normally and pain free, when you have a bowel motion. Everybody is different and this can be different lengths of time for different people. It can take up to 2 weeks. The pill can be flushed away as normal.
We will ask you to check your bowel motions very carefully for up to 2 weeks after swallowing the pill. This is to check it has passed out and not been retained in your small bowel. Please contact us on the below details to confirm when you have seen the pill pass out.
If you have not seen the pill pass out after 2 weeks an abdominal x-ray will be required. It is common that the pill is not seen to pass out, therefore a telephone follow up appointment will be scheduled on the day you have the procedure to check the pill has passed out.
Frequently asked questions
Is it painful?
This examination is not painful.
My symptoms have resolved. Should I still have the test?
It is important you still attend to check the health of your upper GI tract (oesophagus and stomach).
Can I drive after the procedure?
You are safe to drive yourself home after the procedure.
Can I park at the hospital?
The main patient and visitors car parks are at the south end of the site (turn right from the main entrance road) and are clearly signposted.
Blue badge holders should display their blue badge in their vehicle. If in a barriered car park the card will need validating at a reception desk.
Getting your results
Results can take up to 4 to 8 weeks because of the time it takes to look at the large number of images.
Results are sent to your referring doctor and GP. If results are required urgently your doctor can contact us.
WE do not anticipate any problems after the procedure but if you experience any of the following:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Severe sore throat
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.