What is the Purpose of a Capsule Endoscopy (Pill Camera) Procedure?

If you are experiencing stomach or abdominal problems, your doctor may recommend an innovative procedure called ‘capsule endoscopy’. This technology allows stomach examinations to be performed easily and comfortably. For the most part, capsule endoscopy is used to examine the small intestine for concerns which may not be visible by colonoscopy or gastroscopy. To be eligible for this Medicare-funded procedure, you must have first completed a gastroscopy and colonoscopy treatment, and have low haemoglobin.

How does capsule endoscopy work?

Capsule Endoscopy Melbourne

This procedure involves the patient swallowing a pill camera that is about the size of a standard vitamin. The pill contains a miniature camera, light source and radio transmitters, and it has the ability to take approximately 50,000 pictures (approximately 2 pictures per second) of the inside of the digestive tract as it passes through.

The pill camera sends these images to a small receiver that’s worn around the waist. After approximately 8 hours, the images are collected and downloaded to our computer. The pill camera is disposable and simply passes into the toilet, where it can be safely flushed away. 

The images help to pinpoint areas of concern – such as unexplained bleeding, polyps, ulcers, tumours or signs of Crohn’s disease – so that the best treatment option can be chosen. The digestive tract needs to be free of any solid material to get the best photographs, so patients generally follow the same procedure preparation as you would for a colonoscopy.

Preparing for a Capsule Colonoscopy


The day before your capsule endoscopy

  • You must be on a liquid diet AFTER lunch. You can only drink clear fluids.
  • Drink at least 12-15 large glasses of clear fluids before going to bed.
  • From midnight (12:00AM) onwards, do not eat or drink anything. The only exception is a small sip of water to take any necessary medications.

On the day of your capsule endoscopy

  • When you wake up on the day, be sure that you continue fasting and do not take any medications 2 hours prior to your capsule endoscopy procedure.
  • Wear loose clothing to maximise your comfort.
  • You will need to arrive at the clinic in the morning for your admission/check-in.
  • You’ll wear a belt that’s fitted with a data recorder. This is what stores the images, so they can be downloaded and viewed when you return to our clinic.
  • You will be asked to drink a small glass of water with infacol, which is followed straight away with another small glass of water to swallow the pill camera.
  • You are allowed to leave after swallowing the pill camera but need to return to the clinic in 6-8 hours’ time to have the equipment removed.

After swallowing the pill camera

  • Check the blue light on top of the data recorder every 30 minutes at least. If the light stops blinking or changes colour, then you need to record the time it happened and call our clinic immediately on 03 9372 0372.
  • You will be wearing the equipment for around 8 hours and will be told what time you should return to the clinic to have it checked and removed. If the pill camera has not reached your large bowel by the time we check, then you may be asked to go home with the equipment and come back with it the next day.
  • You must wait 2 hours before you can drink clear liquids (like water or apple juice), and 4 hours until you can eat a light meal and take your medications (unless otherwise advised after swallowing the pill camera).
  • During your time wearing the equipment, you will be able to go about your normal daily routine. However, you should not touch your data recorder or get it wet. You should also avoid going near any MRI machines, radio transmitters, metal benches etc. and avoid flying. You can continue using a computer/mobile phone, but you must not stand near another patient undergoing a capsule endoscopy procedure.
  • When the equipment is removed, you can eat and drink normally again.
  • The pill camera will pass out of your body during your regular bowel movements (typically 24-72 hours after swallowing). Most people are unaware of it passing. It does not need to be retrieved and can be flushed down the toilet safely.
  • Until the pill camera passes, you should not undergo any further testing including MRI. If you have an MRI examination scheduled within 3 days of your capsule endoscopy procedure, it should be moved to a later date.

The results of your capsule endoscopy

  • Results are generally available within one week of your procedure. There will be a follow-up consultation with Dr Connelly to discuss the results, and a report will be sent to your referring GP.

How much does a capsule endoscopy cost?

Most of the fee for this procedure is covered by Medicare if you meet the requirements. Patients who do not meet the Medicare requirements can still have this procedure done, but will need to pay the full fee.

Book your appointment today

If you have any questions about the capsule endoscopy procedure, preparation or fees; please call 03 9372 0372. If you already have a referral from your GP, you can book your appointment online today. MVS Centre’s qualified and experienced specialists also provide iron infusion treatment, liver scans and other tailored medical consulting services.

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