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Introduction to Capsule Endoscopy


Capsule endoscopy is a revolutionary new technique that allows doctors to diagnose, non-invasively, any type of ailment in the human body by swallowing a special pill sized camera and undergoing an endoscopic procedure.

The technical capabilities of capsule endoscopy continue to improve, which has revolutionized the diagnosis of small intestine diseases. This non-invasive examination method is sensitive in identifying subtle abnormalities.

Capsule Endoscopy is a safe and painless procedure.

The camera travels through the digestive system and takes pictures of the small intestine as it travels.
These pictures are then sent to a doctor, who can review them to diagnose diseases.

The camera sends real time images to a computer which are then analyzed by both human and artificial intelligence.

The benefit of this new technology is that it can diagnose numerous different conditions from stomach ulcers and cancers to cardiovascular diseases.

This camera can help doctors diagnose digestive diseases.

In this article we will discover more on capsule endoscopy and the benefits thereof.


More on Capsule Endoscopy


Capsule endoscopy is an investigation that will enable your doctor to visualize the entire length of the inside of the small bowel.

It consists of three components namely a camera the size of a large vitamin capsule, a sensor belt, which is strapped around the waist and a data recorder- a walk-man sized box that is connected to the sensor belt and carried around the neck.

Once the camera is activated and swallowed, it takes two pictures every second. The pictures are received by the sensor belt and stored in the data recorder.

The camera will travel through your small bowel and on average takes about 8 hours to reach your large bowel (colon).

After 8 hours the test is finished, and the doctor will remove the equipment to retrieve the pictures that have been taken. The test generates up to 50 000 pictures!

The camera can only be used once, and it will be eliminated with your next bowel action.
This information can help doctors to diagnose diseases such as  Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease and colon cancer.

Capsule Endoscopy is a less invasive alternative to traditional endoscopy procedures.

It is also a more cost-effective option since it does not require the use of expensive medical equipment.  Capsule Endoscopy is a safe and painless procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office.



How does Capsule Endoscopy Work?


Capsule endoscopy is a relatively new diagnostic tool that is revolutionizing the way doctors can screen and diagnose diseases, especially those affecting the small intestine.

Unlike traditional endoscopy, which requires the insertion of a thin, flexible tube down the throat, capsule endoscopy is a non-invasive procedure in which a small, pill-sized camera is swallowed.

Once inside the body, the camera takes pictures of the digestive tract and sends them wirelessly to a receiver worn by the patient.

Capsule endoscopy is a valuable diagnostic tool because it allows doctors to view the entire small intestine, something that cannot be done with traditional endoscopy. This makes it an ideal tool for diagnosing such conditions.


What Diseases Can Capsule Endoscopy Diagnose?


Capsule endoscopy is a sensitive and simple means of examining the inside of the small intestine. It has revolutionized diagnosis by providing a non-invasive means of identifying subtle abnormalities.

Common examples of small intestine diseases diagnosed by capsule endoscopy include:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation (pain and swelling) in the intestines. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both types affect the digestive system. Treatments can help manage this lifelong condition.

Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition which prevents your body from absorbing nutrients properly. The disease is triggered by the presence of gluten in your blood stream, usually as a result of eating certain foods. There’s no known cure for celiac disease, which means that people with this condition are at constant risk of malnutrition.

While most people associate this disease with gluten intolerance, there are also those who suffer from “silent celiac” since they don’t experience obvious symptoms. Most cases of silent celiac are far more significant health concern than typical celiac cases since their immune systems will likely start attacking their bodies.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is a symptom of a disorder in your digestive tract. The blood often appears in stool or vomit but isn’t always visible, though it may cause the stool to look black or tarry.

The level of bleeding can range from mild to severe and can be life-threatening.

Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, lifelong condition that inflames and damages the large intestine.

The inflammation usually affects the rectum and the lining of the colon, which is called the mucosa. 

The inflammation can be silent, not causing any symptoms, although in some cases, ulcerative colitis can lead to rectal bleeding and abdominal cramps. 

Colon Polyps
Gastrointestinal colon polyps are small, benign tumors that grow on the inner lining of your large intestines. Polyps can be present on the surface of the intestine or inside the intestine.

They are not cancerous and do not spread to other parts of the body. However, polyps can become cancerous.

Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract. Colon cancer typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age.


Rectal Cancer
Rectal cancer is a disease in which cancer cells develop in the rectum. Signs of rectal cancer include diarrhea, constipation, or blood in your poop.
Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Rectal cancer is curable, especially when detected early through screening methods like colonoscopy.

What are the risks associated with Capsule Endoscopy?


The risks associated with Capsule Endoscopy are minimal.
The capsule is made of a non-toxic, biocompatible material that is safe for ingestion.

The patient may experience some discomfort while the capsule is passing through the GI tract, but this is generally mild and brief. Capsule Endoscopy is a safe and effective way to diagnose a variety of GI disorders.


How to Prepare for a Capsule Endoscopy

Prior to a capsule endoscopy, it is important to follow the doctor’s orders closely.
This includes drinking plenty of water and avoiding anything that could obstruct the camera.

It is also important to let the doctor know if there are any health conditions that could affect the results of the test. The capsule endoscopy procedure itself is relatively short and painless.



What Is the Cost and How Do I Get Authorisation from My Medical Aid


It is important to get authorisation from your medical aid as this is an expensive procedure and unless you obtain pre-authorisation they might refuse to pay, and you will be liable for the account.

I would also advise that you enquire from them exactly how much they will cover as some medial aids either pay from your medical savings or only pay a certain percentage of the claimed amount.

For any additional information regarding a capsule endoscopy, it’s best to find a trusted and experienced Gastroenterologist who can answer your questions clearly, recommend appropriate solutions, and perform tests with precision and expertise.

Dr. Deetlefs has earned the reputation of a trusted health expert providing consultative, diagnostic, and therapeutic endoscopic and related services to patients in Cape Town and beyond. 

Dr. Deetlefs can be contacted to confirm the estimated breakdown should you be interested in having the procedure done.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.