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Video-capsule Endoscopy

Video-capsule endoscopy has a number of indications including the investigation of iron deficiency anaemia where no cause has been identified on upper GI (gastroscopy) or colonocsopy, the assessment of obscure causes of gastrointestinal inflammation or of subtle abnormalities identified on small bowel imaging such as MR enterography or CT enterography.

Videocapsule endoscopy involves the swallowing of a small capsule which contains a tiny video-camera that takes images of the gut as it travels through the bowel. These images are transmitted via number of small attachments to a box that the patient usually carries with them, often attached to a belt.

Occasionally the capsule will get trapped in the stomach and will need to be pushed into the small bowel using a gastroscope (see gastroscopy). Sometimes if a potential obstruction within the bowel is considered likely health professionals may undertake a dummy scan first. This involves patients swallowing a soluble capsule that dissolves after a short period. This is so that doctors can identify a potential narrowing or stricture and thence be sure the “real” capsule will not become caught within a narrowing, causing obstruction and requiring an operation for removal.

Once the study is finished the images are downloaded to a computer and read. This is a laborious and time consuming task, hence why video-capsule endoscopy is often undertaken in small numbers.

Image of a video-capsule
shutterstock_1523180633 video capsule.jp
A video capsule next to a glass of water to give an impression of size
shutterstock_1499846807 video cap and gl
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