Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is the best way to examine the lining of the small bowel (intestine). This is the part of the gastrointestinal tract that extends from the stomach to the colon. Examination of the stomach (gastroscopy) and colon (colonoscopy) are routinely performed by gastroenterologists but endoscopic examination of the entire small bowel is difficult and invasive.

Who needs small bowel capsule endoscopy?

Small bowel capsule endoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to diagnose small bowel diseases that may cause abdominal pain, anaemia or diarrhoea including Crohn’s disease, small bowel tumours and polyps, coeliac disease and abnormalities of blood vessels (angioectasias).

How does small bowel capsule endoscopy work?

Prior to the procedure a patient takes bowel preparation to empty the small bowel of food. The pill-sized capsule (11 mm x 26 mm, weighing less than 4 grams) is swallowed by the patient and painlessly travels through the oesophagus, stomach, small bowel and part of the colon transmitting over 50,000 images over ten hours. These images are recorded by a data recorder, worn in a pouch over your shoulder that is attached to a sensor belt, worn firmly around your waist, during the procedure.

Within the capsule there is a battery, a camera and a light. The outside of the capsule is coated, so when it touches your saliva, it slips down very easily.

Is small bowel capsule endoscopy safe?

This test is painless and non-invasive, allowing a patient to go about their normal activities while the test is taking place. Side effects are rare but include the capsule becoming stuck in a narrowed area of bowel. Since 2001, over 750,000 procedures have been performed worldwide and capsule endoscopy has become the test of choice for doctors wishing to diagnose abnormalities of the small bowel.

Who performs small bowel capsule endoscopy?

Our capsule endoscopy team is professional and experienced having performed the most small bowel capsule endoscopy procedures in the South Island.

Liz Betty is a Registered Nurse with 13 years experience in Gastroenterology, Endoscopy and Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy. Liz is the primary contact person for this procedure and guides patients through their preparation, testing and aftercare.

Dr Bruce Chapman and Professor Richard Gearry are experienced gastroenterologists with specific expertise in small bowel disease and capsule endoscopy. Reporting typically occurs within 48 hours of completion of the study with a report sent to the referring doctor and the patient’s GP.

Digestive Health Services is a Southern Cross Affiliated Provider for Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy.



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