Capsule endoscopy is a way to record images of the digestive tract for use in medicine. The capsule is the size and shape of a pill and contains a tiny camera. After a patient swallows the capsule, it takes pictures of the inside of the gastrointestinal tract.
The primary use of capsule endoscopy is to examine areas of the small intestine that cannot be seen by other types of endoscopy such as colonoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
Capsule endoscopy is used to examine parts of the gastrointestinal tract that cannot be seen with other types of endoscopy. Upper endoscopy, also called EGD, uses a camera attached to a long flexible tube to view the esophagus, the stomach and the beginning of the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. A colonoscope, inserted through the rectum,can view the colon and the distal portion of the small intestine, the terminal ileum. These two types of endoscopy cannot visualize the majority of the middle portion of the gastrointestinal tract, the small intestine. Capsule endoscopy is useful when disease is suspected in the small intestine, and can sometimes diagnose sources of occult bleeding [blood visible microscopically only] or causes of abdominal pain such as Crohn's disease, or peptic ulcers.
Capsule endoscopy can be used to diagnose problems in the small intestine, but unlike EGD or colonoscopy it cannot treat pathology that may be discovered. Capsule endoscopy transfers the captured images wirelessly to an external receiver worn by the patient using one of appropriate frequency bands. The collected images are then transferred to a computer for diagnosis, review and display. A transmitted radio-frequency signal can be used to accurately estimate the location of the capsule and to track it in real time inside the body and gastrointestinal tract. Common reasons for doing Capsule Endoscopy include unexplained bleeding, unexplained iron deficiency, unexplained abdominal pain, search for polyps, ulcers and tumors of small intestine and inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease. Current attempts in the area of wireless capsule endoscopy are targeting to include additional sensing mechanisms, localization,and motion control enabling new applications, e.g drug delivery. Wireless energy transmission is also investigated for wireless capsule systems to provide a continuous energy source. It is unclear if capsule endoscopy can replace gastroscopy in those with cirrhosis.