Small intestine video capsule endoscopy

Dr. med. Thomas Brunk Gastroenterology Berlin

What is a small bowel video capsule endoscopy?

A small intestine video capsule endoscopy is an examination of the small intestine using a small camera built into a capsule. The capsule is swallowed and records high-resolution images of the intestinal wall. The images can be evaluated by our specialists to detect or rule out diseases or changes in the small intestine.

Why is a small intestine video capsule endoscopy performed?

A small intestine video capsule endoscopy is performed when other examination methods such as a gastroscopy or colonoscopy cannot fully capture the small intestine. Possible diseases or changes in the small intestine include

  • Bleeding or anemia
  • Inflammations or ulcers
  • Polyps or tumors
  • Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease


How do I prepare for a small bowel video capsule endoscopy?

You must be sober to allow a good view of the mucous membranes. This means that you must not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before the examination. You should also discuss your medication with your doctor, as some of it may affect the examination. For example, blood-thinning medication must be discontinued beforehand.

To empty your bowels, you must drink a laxative solution provided by your doctor on the day before and on the day of the examination. You will find the exact instructions for this in the package leaflet. It is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, e.g. water, clear juices, clear broth or tea.

How does a small intestine video capsule endoscopy work?

The video capsule is taken under supervision in our practice. It can usually be done with a sip of water without any problems. The capsule is equipped with a camera and a light source and continuously records high-resolution video images of the intestinal wall. Depending on the system used, these are transmitted to a recorder that you carry with you in a shoulder bag or stored in the capsule for later transmission and analysis. After taking the capsule and a short period of monitoring, you can leave our practice.

The capsule passes through the entire digestive tract. The entire passage through the small intestine usually takes six to eight hours, with smaller meals being allowed after four hours. At the end, the video capsule is excreted naturally. Depending on the system used, it can be discarded or must be collected with a special device for evaluation

What are the risks of a small bowel video capsule endoscopy?

A small bowel video capsule endoscopy is a safe and gentle examination that rarely leads to complications. Possible complications include

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of or damage to the capsule
  • Sticking of the capsule in the intestine
  • Allergic reactions

If you have pain, fever, blood in your stool or vomiting after the examination, you should contact your doctor immediately.

What should I do after a small bowel video capsule endoscopy?

You can eat and drink normally again within 4 hours of taking the video capsule, but you should take it easy and avoid alcohol.

We use two different systems. With the recorder-based system, you carry a receiver in the form of a belt pouch with you during the examination, which you can take home with you for the duration of the examination. You must bring it back to the practice for evaluation. The data is transferred to a computer and can be analyzed by a specialist using special software. The capsule is excreted naturally and can be discarded with this system. If you do not notice the capsule coming off, you should definitely contact us.

With the memory-based system, there is no need for a recorder. The data is stored in the capsule for later recording. This significantly improves comfort during the examination. However, the capsule must be recovered for later recording. Thanks to a special disposable device, however, this can be done without too much trouble

I need a video capsule examination, what happens now?

If you have any questions about the examination or would like to make an appointment, please contact our practice. We will be happy to advise you and provide you with further details.