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Having a wireless capsule endoscopy

What is a wireless capsule endoscopy?

A wireless capsule endoscopy is a term used to describe a small capsule (PillCam) which is used to record pictures of the small bowel. It is a useful tool in diagnosing the cause of unknown bleeding in the intestine and other gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease.

A small pill capsule being held next to a 50p to show it is smaller than the 50 pence coin

What is the proceedure

The PillCam can be placed via endoscopy (a small camera which is placed in the food pipe) in theatre whilst you are asleep, or it can be swallowed. If you are going to swallow the PillCam, it will be carried out as an outpatient so you will not need to have a bed on the ward.


If you are having concerns about swallowing the capsule, you can try practising using a whole jelly bean before you come to the hospital.

When you come to the hospital for this investigation you will have to wear a sensor belt (see below) and carry over your shoulder a small data recorder. The test takes 8 hours to complete and you will have to wear the belt throughout. The belt must be worn around your waist, directly against your skin.

The Pillcam sensor belt

How is the procedure done?

In preparation for this procedure you will have had bowel prep the day before. It is very important that you take this medicine properly, with plenty of clear fluids to make sure that the pictures of your gut are nice and clear.

Once you have taken the first dose of bowel prep you must not have anything else to eat. You can drink clear fluids until 2 hours before the procedure and then you must not have anything else to drink.

It is important that for the first 2 hours after you have swallowed the PillCam or had it placed in theatre, that you do not have anything to eat or drink. 2 hours after having the capsule you may drink clear fluids. 4 hours after having the capsule you can eat a light diet.

After 8 hours the test is complete. You can remove the sensor belt (please make sure this is kept flat so that the sensors do not get damaged) and the recording box and return these to the ward. You can then go home and should receive the results of the study in your next clinic appointment with the gastroenterology team.

What happens to the PillCam?

The PillCam will make its way out through your intestines and you should see it in the toilet between 1 and 3 days later (this can be flushed away).

If you are concerned that you have not seen the PillCam or you have developed stomach pains that are different or more severe than any usual pain you experience or a fever, contact the gastroenterology nurses for further advice.

What are the risks involved?

As with all types of tests there are risks involved including the risk of the capsule being held in your intestine. If you start to feel unwell after the procedure, please contact the gastroenterology nurses.

Contact us

If you need any help or advice with the information in this resource, you can contact the gastroenterology nurses by telephoning 0114 271 7111 or 0114 271 7162 or by emailing: scn-tr.gastronurses@nhs.net

Further resources

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: GAS10

Resource Type: Article

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