Capsule Endoscopy

What is a Capsule Endoscopy?

This involves ingesting a small capsule (the size of a large vitamin tablet) which will pass naturally through your digestive system, taking pictures of the intestine.

The images are transmitted to sensors attached to a data recorder held in a harness, which you will wear. The capsule is disposable and will be excreted naturally in your bowel movement.

Are there any risks?

Very occasionally the capsule can become stuck in the intestine (less than 1%) in which case it may need to be removed surgically. In about 80% of such cases an operation is required anyway. In certain patients (eg those with intestinal fistulas or strictures, those with Crohn’s disease or with prior abdominal/pelvic surgery), your consultant will organise an x-ray test (eg a barium follow-through) before the capsule endoscopy to see whether capsule retention is likely to occur. Capsule endoscopy is not usually performed in patients who are pregnant.


Please continue to take your regular medication as usual. However, if you are prescribed iron tablets (ferrous sulphate) or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Celecoxib) please stop for two weeks prior to your appointment. Do not take calcium channel blockers, Gaviscon, Maxalon, Motilium, or Codeine on the day of the test (if in doubt, check first with your doctor). Please contact the department if you have any questions about this.

The day before Capsule Endoscopy

If your consultant would like you to take a preparation to clear your bowel:

  • Breakfast - Eat a light breakfast at about 8am (ie white toast, omelette, eggs, yoghurt)
  • Lunch – Have a light lunch about midday (ie white toast, omelette, eggs, yoghurt, pasta or fish, cheese or chicken)
  • After lunch on the day before the capsule endoscopy - start a clear liquid diet (that can include jelly, clear broth, apple juice, squash, carbonated drinks, water, dissolved Bovril and Oxo, boiled sweets, tea and coffee with a small amount of milk if required).
  • In the early evening - In the box you have been given or sent, you will find a pack of Moviprep, which includes sachets A and B. Dissolve both sachets in 1 litre of water and drink over 1 – 2 hours. Flavouring can be added to this. Thereafter, continue with clear liquids. Have nothing further to drink from 10pm.

If your consultant would not like you to take bowel preparation:

  • Eat a light breakfast and lunch of the suggested foods from the list above, thereafter drink clear liquids only. Have nothing further to drink from 10pm.

Please note:

  • Abstain from smoking 24 hours prior to undergoing the procedure.
  • Male patients may need to shave their abdomen 15cm above and below the navel on the day of the procedure.

Day of the Procedure

  • Do not take any medication for 2 hours before undergoing the procedure.
  • Please dress in loose fitting, two piece clothing as you will be wearing a data recorder in a harness.

What happens when I come to the unit?

  • When you attend the unit, you will be registered at reception (please bring your insurance details and authorisation number with you) and then taken into the endoscopy unit by a nurse. You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. During this time you will be given 2 ml of Infacol™, a non-prescription medication usually given to babies to prevent the accumulation of wind. This is safe.
  • You will then be taken to a cubicle and adhesive sensor pads will be applied to your abdomen. These will be connected to a data recorder which you will wear in a belt around your waist.
  • You will then be asked to swallow the capsule.

After swallowing the capsule

  • Once you have swallowed the capsule do not go anywhere near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as an MRI or amateur radio for at least 8 hours. We suggest you do NOT take public transport during this time, or go to crowded public places.
  • Do not eat or drink for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours you may have clear fluids. After 4 hours you may have a light snack. Contact the endoscopy unit immediately if you suffer from any abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting during this time.
  • Capsule endoscopy lasts approximately 8 hours. Do not disconnect the equipment or remove the belt at any time during this period.
  • Handle the equipment carefully. Avoid sudden movements and avoid banging the (blue) data recorder. Do not expose it to shock, vibration or direct sunlight as this may result in the loss of information.
  • During the capsule endoscopy you will need to verify every 15 minutes that the small light on top of the data recorder is blinking twice per second. If it stops blinking at this rate, record the time and contact the endoscopy department.
  • You should also record the time and nature of any event such as eating, drinking, and any unusual activity on the capsule endoscopy event form (see the end of this document).
  • Avoid any strenuous activity, especially if this involves sweating, and do not bend over or stoop during the eight hour period.

After completing the capsule endoscopy

  • You will be given a time to return to the endoscopy unit to return the equipment with your capsule endoscopy event form. This is usually approx 4:30pm.
  • You may commence a normal diet once the test is completed. The capsule is normally passed in your stool after 24 to 72 hours. It can be flushed down the drain safely.