This is a new technology where the patient swallows a video capsule which is about the size of a vitamin. Within this capsule is a camera that takes pictures as it travels through the stomach and small intestine. It takes about two pictures per second as it makes it way through the GI tract, and in this regard it is a new and valuable tool for us being able to visualize the small intestine.
The procedure is painless. It requires about an eight hour fast overnight prior to the procedure. The patient then comes in the following morning in order to swallow the video capsule. Just prior to that, some sensors are attached to the abdomen as well as a data recorder. This is then carried by the patient in either a small sack or on the waist. After the patient swallows the capsule the recording goes on for eight hours and the patient goes about his or her day with normal routine activities. At the end of the examination the data recorder is returned, at which time the technician then downloads the recording to a disk in order to give it to the physician.
The disk is then placed on a computer where the physician is able to read the images taken during the transit through the small intestine. This could be compared to a surveillance camera where continual photographs are taken. The physician then reads the video examination on his computer as it travels through the intestinal tract. The images are excellent, and it is a new way of diagnosing a variety of medical conditions.
This is a valuable tool in order to diagnose a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. It is often used as a diagnostic method for looking for a source of blood loss or anemia when a colonoscopy and EGD and other studies are normal. One can find either ulcerations in the small intestine or small vascular malformation that could be a source of blood loss. In addition it is a good tool to detect Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and small bowel cancers.