Risk Involved in Capsule Endoscopy

To make capsule endoscopy safe and effective in diagnosing your problem, you have to follow certain things and prepare yourself accordingly. Your doctor may ask you to do certain things, such as

  • Your doctor may ask you to fast (stop eating and drinking except water) for at least 12 hours before the procedure. This is done to ensure the capsule camera is able to take clear pictures of gastrointestinal tract.
  • Your doctor may ask you to take a purgative (a stimulant purgative such as bisacodyl) or laxative the night prior to the procedure to clear your bowel completely. This is also done to get clear pictures of digestive tract. Taking laxative or purgative can help in getting clear pictures of digestive tract by the camera.
  • Your doctor may ask you to delay taking certain medications that you may be taking for other medical condition. This is done to prevent interference in procedure by the drug.
  • Your doctor may ask you to take rest and avoid strenuous exercise after swallowing the capsule endoscopy camera. Strenuous exercise may interfere with the proper functioning of the capsule camera. If you have a job ask your doctor if you can do your usual work or it is best to take leave for one day on the of the procedure.

Make sure that you follow all the instructions given by your doctor properly and not following the instructions properly may require you to undergo the same procedure again or reschedule the procedure.

How safe is capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is very safe procedure. The only risk involved (very rare) is the possibility of capsule camera getting lodged inside digestive tract. Normally the capsule camera comes out of the body (digestive tract) within few days after swallowing it along with normal bowel movement. The risk of getting the camera lodged is very small. However, in certain cases the risk may be higher such as, if there is tumor or if there was surgery done previously in intestine, if the person is suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease) etc. as all these make the intestinal lumen narrow which may lead the camera to get stuck in intestine. If you have any of these mentioned medical conditions, your doctor may suggest you to undergo CT scan to determine if there is any narrowing of intestinal lumen before advising capsule endoscopy.

If you have not passed the capsule in bowel and there is no symptom such as abdominal discomfort or symptoms of intestinal obstruction, your doctor may allow few more days to pass the camera. However, if there are symptoms of intestinal obstruction the capsule camera may have to be removed by using standard endoscopy procedure. Sometimes surgery may have to be performed to remove the capsule camera and treat the obstruction.


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