Capsule Endoscopy

Using the information obtained through capsule endoscopy, gastroenterologists are diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in a new way. Children’s is one of only a few hospitals in the nation to use capsule endoscopy.

Doctors at Children’s are using this tool to make an initial diagnosis in children and are expanding its use to track the disease and treatment.

Uses of capsule endoscopy:

  • Detect the source of intestinal bleeding
  • Diagnose small bowel disorders
  • Differentiate Crohn’s disease
  • Target and monitor therapy
  • Identify change in the clinical course of the disease
  • Evaluate tumor location
  • Recognize problems with vessels or mucus membranes

The Video Capsule

In children with evidence of intestinal bleeding or in those with ongoing abdominal pain, correct diagnosis can be a challenge. Capsule endoscopy is used as a tool for monitoring therapy and disease progression.

The capsule helps image the small intestine.

  • The child is placed on a liquid diet from lunch the day before the test, and is allowed no food or liquids the night before the test.
  • A medicine is given to the child that helps dissolve gas bubbles that may interfere with the clarity of the image.
  • The pill camera capsule, coated to ease swallowing and transit, is swallowed with water. The patient straps on leads for localization and a belt that holds a wireless receiver/data recorder.
  • This receiver records the data transmitted by the capsule, which includes the location of the camera and the photographs taken.
  • The tiny camera snaps two high-resolution images per second as it passes through the digestive tract, producing more than 50,000 images during the study.
  • After wearing the belt for six to eight hours, the child removes the receiver.
  • A technician downloads the photographs to a computer with the compatible software.
  • Viewing the photos can take an hour or longer.
  • Examining the photos is very important. Changes in the lining of the intestinal tract, as well as the signs of early disease, must be identified and recorded for follow-up.

The Patency Capsule

By serving as a “dry run” for the pill camera, the patency capsule is making capsule endoscopy even safer. Children’s is the first site in the world reporting use of the patency capsule in pediatric patients.

  • It is the exact size and shape of the camera capsule, but instead of housing a miniature camera and flash, it contains a thin radiofrequency tag.
  • The patency capsule ensures that the pill camera will be able to pass through the child’s system without being blocked in certain areas of the body.
  • If the patency capsule does remain in the small intestine (often because there are problem in the small intestine), it will break down on its own and be safely passed.
  • If the patient does not pass the patency capsule, it can be located from the radiofrequency tag.