Capsule Endoscopy


A capsule endoscopy (also known as a “PillCam”) is performed to visualise parts of the small bowel that are not accessible via standard gastroscopy and colonoscopy. The procedure involves swallowing a capsule, which is the size of large vitamin pill, which contains a tiny camera. The capsule travels through the stomach and then into the small bowel taking thousands of photos along the way. The camera transmits these photos wirelessly to a recording device that you wear during the procedure. The capsule will travel through your small bowel and into large bowel (colon) before it is excreted in your stools within a day or two. Most patients are not aware that they have passed the capsule. The capsule is disposable and does not need to be retrieved.


 A capsule endoscopy may be useful in identifying the cause and location of gastrointestinal bleeding that was not identified by standard gastroscopy and colonoscopy 


Capsule endoscopy is a very safe procedure. There is, however, a small (less than 1:100) risk of capsule getting stuck and retained in the small bowel. There is a higher chance of this happening if you have Crohn’s disease involving your small bowel, take lots of anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, or have had prior small bowel surgery. If your capsule gets stuck and causes you to have symptoms such as abdominal pain, there is a small chance that the capsule will need to be removed via endoscopy or an operation. There is also a small chance that capsule will fail to reach the very end of the small bowel during the recording time. If this happens you will need an abdominal X-ray to ensure that the capsule has passed out of the bowel.


There is an out-of-pocket cost for capsule endoscopy, however most patients will be eligible for a partial rebate from Medicare. 


Our specialists perform capsule endoscopy at our consulting rooms. The day and time at which your procedure is performed will depend on your treating specialist.


You should eat normally up until lunchtime on the day before your procedure, then after lunch you can have only clear liquids. You will need to fast (have nothing to eat or drink) for at least 8 hours before your procedure. Any important medications should be swallowed 2 hours before the procedure with a few sips of water. Please notify your doctor if you are taking any medications for diabetes, as some adjustments may be required.


You will need to attend the consulting rooms on the morning of your procedure so that our staff can set up and connect you to the capsule endoscopy equipment. This process will take around 10-15 minutes. You will then be asked to swallow the capsule (about the size of a large vitamin pill) with water. You may start consuming clear liquids two hours after swallowing the capsule and then four hours after swallowing the capsule you can recommence solid food. You will need to return to the consulting rooms later that afternoon to return the capsule endoscopy equipment.


Your doctor will analyse your capsule endoscopy recorder after your return it. This can take up to 7 days and a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to discuss your results.