Capsule Endoscopy (PillCam™)
Capsule Endoscopy is a revolutionary new technology that allows our physicians to see the middle part of your intestinal tract - the small intestine - where a scope cannot readily go. Our patients can now swallow a wireless video camera about the size of a large vitamin, and then go normally about their day while the capsule records images throughout the digestive tract. This new tool is especially helpful in finding the source of unexplained intestinal bleeding and for detecting Crohn's disease.
West Chester Gastrointestinal Group uses the PillCam SB (small bowel) capsule endoscopy system developed by Given Imaging. It was approved by the FDA in July 2003 and is already being used in over 1,300 sites in 33 countries.
When other diagnostic procedures fail to determine the reason for your symptoms, you can swallow a tiny video camera inside a capsule. As the PillCam SB camera travels naturally through your digestive system, it can capture more than 57,000 crystal clear images in eight hours, showing your doctor nearly every nook and cranny of your small intestine; the pictures are "put back together" as a video movie which the doctor watches to examine the small intestine.
As is the case with most newer diagnostic procedures, not all insurance companies are currently reimbursing for this procedure for certain conditions, so we will help you verify your coverage in advance, or give you information when you call your insurance representative.
Q: What is the PillCam SB capsule?
A: The wireless capsule is 11 x 26 mm (about the size of a large vitamin) and has a super-smooth coating on it that makes it very easy to swallow. It contains a color video camera, 4 LED lights, batteries and a wireless transmitter. Images are transmitted to a data recorder worn by the patient.
Q: How many images will the capsule capture?
A: In eight hours, the capsule generates about 57,000 images, at a speed of 2 frames per second. These images will be transferred to a computer and converted into a color digital movie which the doctor can then examine. We will contact you in 5-7 days with your results.
Image of normal vilii
Image of Crohn's Disease
Image of jejunum with active bleeding
Q: Will I have to spend all day at the doctor's office?
A: No! You will need to come to our offices in the morning to swallow the capsule and let us attach sensors to your body. You wear a lightweight belt containing a data recorder about the size of a portable CD player that will receive information from the capsule throughout its journey. Then you can leave and go about your regular activities and return back to our office eight hours later so we can remove the equipment and retrieve the data.
Q: What can I expect?
A: After lunch the day prior to the test, you can have only LIQUIDS, such as chicken broth, jello, sodas, clear juices, Gatorade, black coffee or tea, etc. The night before the test, you will need to fast for 10-12 hours, to ensure that your intestinal tract is empty and the camera will have a clear view of the walls of the small intestine. In the morning, you will come to West Chester Gastroenterology Group, where our staff will apply adhesive sensors to your abdomen, and help you put on a belt containing the data recorder (about the size of a portable CD player). After that, you can leave and go about your daily activities. The natural muscular contractions of your intestines will move the capsule through your system. You can drink clear liquids after about two hours, and four hours after swallowing the capsule you can have a light meal. At the end of eight hours, you return to our offices and we will remove the data recorder and sensors and download your data into our computers for further analysis. The disposable capsule will pass naturally through your system within 24 hours.
Q: Can I use this instead of a colonoscopy?
A: No. Colonoscopy is still the best ways to see the inside of the colon and lower intestine. The PillCam SB capsule was not designed for this purpose, and the batteries do not last long enough to record data beyond the average eight hours it takes for an object to travel through the small intestine.