A video capsule endoscopy is used to investigate anaemia, where the cause hasn't been shown by other tests, abdominal pain, and in the assessment of coeliac disease and Crohn's disease.
A small capsule, which transmits radio signals to a recorder which the subject wears around their belt, is swallowed. This takes about eight hours to pass through the system and the pictures are then analysed. About 20000 pictures are taken. This gives information about the small bowel which cannot be obtained by a gastroscopy or colonoscopy.
To prepare for a video capsule endoscopy, you'll need to take one or more measures in the days prior to undergoing the procedure. For example, for the 24 hours before the procedure, you'll typically be advised to modify your diet, by sticking to clear liquids only. On the morning of the procedure you'll be “nil by mouth,” which means no food or drink beforehand. This ensures that the camera used during the video capsule endoscopy procedure is able to take clear images of your bowels. As well as this, you might be asked to modify your medication schedule, if you are taking any medications that might interfere with the procedure.
After the procedure, you'll be advised to avoid strenuous tasks such as heavy lifting, or vigorous exercise, for a day or two, or until you pass the camera capsule in your stool. If your job involves any strenuous activities, you may also be advised to rest for the remainder of the day rather than going back to work.
For most people, the procedure is complete—meaning they pass the capsule in their stool—within eight to twelve hours. For some, however, it may take a day or longer to pass the capsule.
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