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This Endoscopy Treatment’s Easy to Swallow

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

Remember the movie “Fantastic Voyage”? This late-night favorite of sci-fi fans tells the story of a submarine crew that’s shrunken to microscopic size so it can venture into the bloodstream of an injured scientist to repair damage to his brain.

Fifty-five years later, doctors use miniaturized digital cameras, not tiny submarines, to explore the inside of the human body.

And it’s not science fiction, either.

Techniques that use digital imaging to evaluate the organs and tissues of your body, including the digestive tract, are called endoscopic procedures.

One type of endoscopy, capsule endoscopy, uses a “video camera-in-a-pill” that you swallow. As the capsule passes through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the camera images the entire small bowel, recording thousands of digital color images of the digestive tract.

The images are transmitted to a recorder you wear about your waist or over your shoulder. Later, the images are downloaded to a computer, and the software turns them into a video for your gastroenterologist to review.

Why is capsule endoscopy done?

Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, evaluate the small intestine, the part of the bowel that can’t be reached using traditional upper endoscopy or by colonoscopy. Traditional endoscopy uses a flexible tube with a camera on one end that’s passed through a natural body opening or small cut.

There are many types of endoscopes, each of which is named according to the organs or areas they are used to examine.

Capsule endoscopy offers a non-invasive approach to look for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine, says the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

The procedure can also help with detecting GI abnormalities, monitor disease (like Crohn’s), and assess treatment for conditions in the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, and colon (large intestine).

How is capsule endoscopy done?

The test can be started in your doctor’s office. Because like most endoscopies, the capsule endoscopy is an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home the same day.

  • You swallow the capsule, which is about the size of a large vitamin. Each capsule is used only once
  • It travels through the digestive system following the same path food travels
  • The recorder will be placed on your waist or shoulder
  • The capsule, which is not digested or absorbed, may be in your body for several hours. In most cases, the capsule leaves the body within 24 hours
  • During the procedure, which typically takes 8 to 12 hours, you can go about your daily activities, as usual
  • The capsule leaves the body in a bowel movement and can be flushed down the toilet without harming the plumbing

The gastroenterology department at Lee Health Physician Group offers leading-edge medical and surgical treatments like the non-invasive capsule endoscopy.

Whether it's time to see a doctor about your frequent heartburn, or you’ve been diagnosed with a serious condition such as Crohn’s disease or pancreatic cancer, Lee Health’s gastroenterology specialists want to help.

Our experts diagnose and treat disorders of the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Our team works to improve your health through medication, surgical procedures, and education on lifestyle changes.

Call for a consultation or appointment today at 239-343-6202 (LPG Gastroenterology - HealthPark Commons) or 239-468-0142 (LPG Gastroenterology – Coconut Point).

  • Senior couple embracing each other


    Focusing on common and complex digestive issues of the pancreas, liver, stomach, esophagus, small intestine, and colon.

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