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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Video capsule endoscopy

What is video capsule endoscopy?

Unlike a traditional endoscopy, which only reaches the upper digestive tract, video capsule endoscopy allows us to examine the small bowel for abnormalities.

At the start of the procedure, the patient is asked to swallow a small capsule. This capsule contains a tiny camera which flows through the digestive system and takes two pictures per second.

Using wireless technology, these pictures are transmitted to a small recording device worn on a belt. After several hours, the images are downloaded to a computer. We can then examine the pictures to identify potential tumors, as well as sources of bleeding or pain.

With this leading-edge imaging technique, we can see approximately 20 feet of the small intestine that cannot be reached with an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy.

The procedure is painless and non-invasive. If the patient has concerns about swallowing the capsule, we can use an endoscope to place it into the stomach. The capsule takes about eight hours to pass through the system.

Video capsule endoscopy medical animation