Capsule endoscopy at the London Clinic

Capsule Endoscopy was invented only 12 years ago but is now a routine procedure with more than a million cases performed worldwide. A Capsule Endoscopy service was started at The London Clinic in 2006, and over 100 procedures are now performed each year.

What is capsule endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy is a pain-free investigation: by swallowing a pill-sized capsule containing a camera, the entire small intestine can be filmed. The capsule takes approximately 50,000 digital photographs which are transmitted to a data recorder worn on a waist-belt. 

The capsule passes through the small intestine in the normal way and is excreted in a bowel movement. As it is disposable, we do not need to retrieve it afterwards.

What are the benefits of a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy has fewer side effects than traditional small bowel investigations, x-rays, scans and surgical investigations.

Benefits include:

  • The capsule is small and easy to swallow
  • The procedure is painless and does not involve sedation
  • Additional investigations can be avoided because results are accurate

  • You can complete the 10-hour procedure at home after initial set up
  • You can walk around and carry out normal activities during the test

How can a capsule endoscopy help?

Capsule Endoscopy is an accurate diagnostic test for the following conditions of the small bowel:

  • Crohn’s and Caeliacs disease
  • Polyps or tumours
  • Bleeding in the small bowel causing iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Diagnose the cause of chronic diarrhoea and weight-loss
  • Clarify small bowel abnormalities seen on other investigations (CT or MRI scans, or barium follow-through tests)

When is a capsule endoscopy not suitable?

Capsule Endoscopy can be performed on patients with a heart pacemaker and other electro-medical devices, but they will need to be monitored in hospital for the day.

Capsule Endoscopy is a safe procedure, but in a few instances the procedure is not advisable:

  • Patients known to have a gastrointestinal blockage or tear
  • Patients with swallowing disorders. (However, the capsule can be placed into the small intestine by a doctor using an endoscope)
  • If the patient is pregnant

What are the side effects of capsule endoscopy?

Capsule Endoscopy is a safe procedure and side effects are very rare. The main risk, which happens in less than 0.75% of cases, is that the capsule becomes lodged in an area of narrowing within the bowel. If this does happen, it may need to be removed either via an endoscopy or by surgery.

To minimise complications, anyone thought to be at risk will be tested beforehand by swallowing a ‘patency capsule’ (a dummy version of the capsule made of dissolvable chalk) to ensure the camera capsule can pass safely through the entire small bowel.

Making an enquiry

For more information about a private capsule endoscopy procedure at The London Clinic: