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What is a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a pain-free, minimally-invasive investigation of the small bowel. The London Clinic offers this high-tech procedure in a private, calm and comfortable environment.

By swallowing a pill-sized capsule containing a tiny, wireless camera, the entire small intestine can be filmed in detail. This allows The London Clinic’s expert gastroenterologists to diagnose conditions affecting the small bowel, with fewer side effects than traditional investigations.

The London Clinic’s Capsule Endoscopy service has run since 2006, with over 100 procedures performed each year. The video-capsule is administered in our purpose-built facility where you will be supported by our expert multidisciplinary team. Our patients have given The London Clinic Endoscopy Unit a satisfaction rate of between 98 and 100%.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment. 

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

The London Clinic is an HTA licensed and JACIE accredited cancer centre with an ‘Excellent’ MacMillan Quality Environment Mark and with access to a Level 3 intensive care unit.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.

Understanding your investigation

The London Clinic has a state-of-the-art Endoscopy Unit. As the only independent private healthcare provider offering a Saturday service, The London Clinic Endoscopy Unit gives patients the very latest investigations, with greater flexibility and choice over when to access them.

We have a team of world-leading Consultant Gastroenterologists. Our doctors can advise you about capsule endoscopy, answer your questions and carefully interpret and explain the results of the investigation.

Why would I need a capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is performed to diagnose conditions affecting the small bowel. It may be recommended if polyps or other abnormalities have been spotted CT and MRI scans or on barium follow-through tests. It is also used to investigate symptoms including:

  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Bleeding from the bowels

The London Clinic’s gastroenterologists use capsule endoscopy to diagnose conditions including Crohn’s and coeliac disease, identify polyps and tumours and to discover whether bleeding in the small bowel may be causing iron-deficiency anaemia.

What is the preparation for capsule endoscopy?

To prepare for your capsule endoscopy, your consultant will usually ask you not to eat and drink on the day of the procedure. This will ensure that there are clear views of your digestive tract. You may be prescribed a laxative to flush out the bowel and help the camera capture better images.

Our expert multi-disciplinary team will provide you with detailed guidance on what you can eat and drink prior to the procedure. They will also advise on when to take any medication you have been prescribed.

Capsule endoscopy facts

Your consultant, together with Gill Fry and Emilia Tencheva, our Capsule Nurse Specialists, will administer the capsule as an outpatient procedure. It is pain-free, so no anaesthetic is necessary.

You will be given the capsule to swallow with water. it’s around the same size as a vitamin pill and has a slippery coating, so it’s easy to get down. Once you’ve swallowed the device you should be unaware that it’s there.

The camera sends around 150,000 digital images to a recording device over an eight-hour period. The recorder will be strapped to a belt around your waist. Once it has been set up, you are free to go home and get on with your day. However, you should take it easy and avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting.

The capsule passes through the bowel and is excreted in the stools. The device is disposable, so can be safely flushed away.

Capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure with few complications, however some people may need special precautions. In particular, if you have a pacemaker you might need to be monitored in hospital during the test.

Sometimes the procedure may not be safe, or your consultant may require further tests before going ahead. This may be the case if:

  • You have a gastrointestinal blockage or tear
  • You have a swallowing disorder. If this is the case your doctor may be able to place the capsule directly into your stomach using an endoscope
  • You are pregnant
  • There are narrow sections or strictures in your digestive tract

Capsule endoscopy risks

There are risks with any procedure. Our gastroenterologists, together with our experienced nursing staff, work to minimise these and support your safe recovery. In less than one in a hundred cases, the capsule can become stuck and will need to be removed by endoscopy or surgery.

If your consultant is concerned about the danger of this, they may suggest that you have a test to confirm that the device will pass through the bowel. You’ll be asked to swallow a soluble dummy capsule, before proceeding to the full examination.

Capsule endoscopy recovery

Patients having capsule endoscopy at The London Clinic usually feel well and are ready to continue normal activities straight after the procedure.

The images will be downloaded from the recording device for assessment and analysis by your consultant. They will arrange an appointment to discuss the results, explain your diagnosis, talk you through the treatment options and address any worries that you have.

Treatment cost

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments.

Patients have the option to spread the cost of treatment with Chrysalis Finance.

Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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