5 Things to Know About PillCam Capsule Endoscopy

PillCam capsule endoscopy

Technology in the gastroenterology field has advanced beyond the traditional endoscopy procedure. The PillCam capsule endoscopy is a simple and effective tool to help detect and diagnose gastrointestinal issues or diseases. There are many differences between the PillCam capsule endoscopy and a standard endoscopy, including preparation, the procedure method, and the ability to examine different areas of the gastrointestinal tract. 

At Wake Endoscopy Center, we provide both the PillCam capsule endoscopy and a traditional endoscopy. Learn more about the differences between the two and which is better suited for your gastrointestinal needs. 

PillCam Capsule Endoscopy vs. Traditional Endoscopy 

A traditional endoscopy is defined as “a test to identify abnormalities in your esophagus, stomach, and or/duodenum by passing a flexible fiberoptic tube through your mouth and down the back of the throat into the esophagus.” Meanwhile, capsule endoscopy is just as it sounds. It is an endoscopy in the form of a digestible capsule or “pill-size” device. 

The PillCam capsule endoscopy is a powerful tool in the gastrointestinal world. The following are five important things to know about capsule endoscopies:

  1. A PillCam Capsule is an ingestible camera that you pass through bowel movements.

Learning the technology behind PillCam is an essential part of understanding how a capsule endoscopy is performed. Inside the capsule is a camera that takes thousands of photos as it travels through your digestive system. The camera takes clear, high-quality photos that are then transmitted to a recording device. The capsule takes about 8 hours to pass through the small bowel. Your body should pass the capsule naturally through bowel movements within the few days that follow.

  1. Patients wear a sensor belt during the procedure.

Patients wear a sensor belt around their waist during the test to serve as a recording device. The photographs from the camera are transmitted to the belt for the doctor to analyze further. The strap is worn comfortably and can go over a single layer of clothing. You will have to wear the belt for the duration of the procedure, so approximately eight hours. However, you are free to leave the doctor’s office and go about your usual routine unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. Later that afternoon, you can remove the belt when you return to the office. 

  1. The capsule is the size of a vitamin pill.

While no pain should be associated with a regular endoscopy, it can cause discomfort to some patients. The small size of the capsule endoscopy can be more appealing to patients compared to the tube used for a traditional endoscopy. If you’re familiar with and comfortable taking pills, this procedure may suit you well.

The PillCam capsule endoscopy is painless and very low-risk. In extremely rare circumstances, the capsule can become lodged in your digestive tract. If this does occur, consult your doctor for a solution.

  1. Capsule endoscopies can examine parts of the digestive tract a traditional endoscopy can’t reach.

The PillCam capsule endoscopy is better for examining the small intestine than a traditional endoscopy. Comparatively, a standard endoscopy cannot reach parts of the small bowel that the capsule endoscopy can. Capsule endoscopies are commonly used to detect issues behind bleeding of the small intestine or inflammation of the area. It can also be used to detect polyps or tumors that can be signs of potential disease or gastrointestinal issues. 

  1. It is a non-invasive procedure done without sedation.

Lastly, arguably the most defining and appealing difference between the capsule and traditional endoscopies is that PillCam is non-invasive and does not require sedation. Consequently, you can drive yourself to and from the doctor’s office on the day of the procedure. The capsule endoscopy is a simple, painless procedure that doesn’t disrupt your daily life.

Contact a Gastroenterologist

Our providers at Wake Endoscopy Center are here to assist you with your gastrointestinal needs, including performing a PillCam capsule endoscopy. We work to ensure that all of our patients feel safe and confident before any upcoming procedure. Contact us at (919) 783-4888 to discuss any further questions regarding a capsule endoscopy.