Diagnosing issues of a gastrointestinal nature or problems of the colon have historically been performed through traditional endoscopy using a thin flexible tube-like instrument fitted with a camera and a light.
This tube is lowered down the throat or up through the rectum depending on the issue the doctor is diagnosing. Sometimes, traditional endoscopy is unable to reach the location in question but fortunately, these areas can be diagnosed using capsule endoscopy.
What is Capsule Endoscopy?
Many conditions can be diagnosed using capsule endoscopy because it helps doctors look inside a patient’s small intestine which can not be accessed using traditional endoscopy. The procedure is sometimes called a small bowel capsule endoscopy.
The patient swallows a vitamin-size capsule containing a tiny camera that takes thousands of pictures as it travels through the patient’s digestive tract. These pictures are transmitted to a special recording device that the patient wears on a belt around their waist.
Who is a Good Candidate for Capsule Endoscopy?
The procedure is a good diagnostic tool for patients over the age of 10 years old who are able to swallow the capsule. Capsule endoscopy is FDA-approved in the United States for children 2 years and older but the capsule is manually placed near the entrance to the small intestine. Patients who have a condition that causes narrowing in the digestive tract may not be suitable candidates for this procedure.
What conditions can be Diagnosed using Capsule Endoscopy?
The most common reason for utilizing capsule endoscopy is to search for the cause of bleeding in the small intestine. It is also helpful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, and other issues of the small intestine or bowel. Other conditions that are often investigated through the procedure include:
How is Capsule Endoscopy performed?
The procedure is normally performed first thing in the morning after an all-night fast. The patient is first fitted with a series of sensory patches that will help assist with the collection of images and the recording device is fitted around the waist on a belt. Next, the patient will swallow the capsule with water and return home.
The capsule begins recording images and will continue for 8 – 12 hours. The patient will be active and awake while the capsule moves through the digestive tract, but they will not feel anything out of the ordinary.
The doctor will provide specific instructions regarding when eating may be resumed and any activity restrictions the patient may have. Normally, patients can begin consuming clear liquids after about 2 hours and solid foods and/or medications after about 4 hours.
At a predetermined time, the patient will return to the office and the recording device will be disconnected so the video/images can be retrieved. The patient can return home and the capsule should pass naturally within 48 hours. The capsules are designed for one-time use and will not harm plumbing or the environment.
How do I Prepare for the Procedure?
It is important that patients properly prep for a capsule endoscopy and the doctor will give each patient specific instructions. It is important to follow these instructions and not eat or drink anything for the appropriate amount of time before the exam. The doctor will also provide directions about taking your necessary medications.
When do I get the Results of the Exam?
The video will be reviewed by the doctor and a report will be generated. Patients may receive the results either over the phone, via video consultation, or through an in-person scheduled follow-up appointment.
What are the Benefits of Capsule Endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy is a safe, easy, non-invasive, technique that effectively allows doctors to perform a complete diagnostic of the small intestine. This endoscopic technology is a significant advancement and a great tool for aiding in the accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal issues so effective treatments can be administered.
What are the Alternatives to Capsule Endoscopy?
Alternative tests to capsule endoscopy include barium studies of the intestine, however, these tests are often inadequate for small bowel pathology.
What are the Risks of Capsule Endoscopy?
While possible complications exist for any procedure, capsule endoscopy is safe and associated with low risk. The most common concern is that the capsule will be retained by the body and will not travel the distance to be eliminated. This happens in only about 5% of cases and in very rare cases, the capsule may have to be surgically removed. (<1%)
Additionally, the capsule could be delayed as it passes through the small bowel, resulting in the termination of the recording before the capsule completes its journey.
How much does the Procedure cost?
The cost of the procedure will vary by patient depending on several factors. The average cost of capsule endoscopy in the United States is $2,100 and can vary with insurance coverage, etc. The cost of your procedure will be discussed in detail during your consultation.
(Note: for insurance purposes, the CPT code for capsule endoscopy is 91110)
If you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues with unexplained bleeding or other concerns, contact IBI Healthcare Institute today to schedule an appointment. Our team of expert professionals is here to answer your questions and address your concerns.