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Capsule endoscopies were first introduced in the UK in 2002 and are now a routine procedure with more than a million cases performed worldwide. The London Clinic’s Capsule Endoscopy service has run since 2006, and over 100 procedures are performed each year.

WHAT IS CAPSULE ENDOSCOPY?

A 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 about 150,000 digital photographs which are transmitted to a waist-belt and data recorder. After downloading the images to a computer they are viewed and reported on by a consultant.

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?

A capsule endoscopy has fewer side effects than traditional small bowel investigations, x-rays, scans and surgical investigations.

Benefits include:

  • The capsule is small enough to swallow
  • The procedure is painless and does not involve sedation
  • Additional investigations can be avoided because results are accurate
  • You can complete the 12-hour procedure at home/work after initial set up
  • You can walk around and carry out normal activities during the test

How can a capsule endoscopy help?

A capsule endoscopy is an accurate investigation test for the following conditions of the small bowel:

  • Crohn’s and Coeliacs disease
  • Polyps or tumours
  • Bleeding in the small bowel causing iron-deficiency anaemia

It can also:

  • 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?

A capsule endoscopy can be performed on patients with a heart-pacemaker and other electro-medical devices, but they might need to be monitored in hospital during the test.

A capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure, but in a few instances the procedure is not advisable. These are:

  • Where patients are known to have a gastrointestinal blockage or tear
  • Where patients have swallowing disorders. (However the capsule can be ‘placed’ into the small intestine by a doctor using an endoscope)
  • Where the patient is pregnant

What are the side effects of a capsule endoscopy?

A capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure and side effects are very rare.

The main risk, which happens in less than 1% 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 material) to ensure the video capsule can pass safely through the entire small bowel.

Main switchboard: +44 (0) 207 935 4444

Treatment enquiries: +44 (0) 207 616 7693Consultant appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7693 Prices for self funding patients: +44 (0) 203 219 3315Physiotherapy appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7651X-ray and scan appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7653Invoice and payment enquiries: +44 (0) 207 616 7708

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