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While it’s called the “small” bowel, the small intestine is actually the longest part of the gastrointestinal tract. Until the advent of capsule endoscopy, it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of suspected internal bleeding without invasive procedures. Finding the source of internal bleeding throughout the GI tract is important, as ulcers, Crohn’s disease, polyps and benign or malignant tumors can all cause small bowel bleeding. These conditions must first be diagnosed to be treated successfully.

Capsule endoscopy can help you and your health care provider pinpoint the cause of a bleed while you’re awake, as opposed to an endoscopy or enteroscopy, which require sedation.

How Capsule Endoscopy Detects Small Bowel Bleeding

Roughly the size of a large pill, a capsule endoscopy device contains a tiny camera, a light source, a transmitter and a battery with a lifespan of 8 hours. Swallowing this capsule gives your healthcare provider the ability to review up to 55,000 photographs of your intestinal tract and likely pinpoint the cause of small bowel bleeding.

The only non-invasive test which allows your doctor the chance to visually inspect the entire small bowel, a capsule endoscopy requires you to do little more than follow a diet given to you by your doctor for 12 to 24 hours, then swallow the device. Your doctor may advise you to avoid strenuous activity for the duration of the test to minimize image blurring.

Capsule Endoscopy Recovery Time

Aside from potential activity limitations, there’s no recovery time from a capsule endoscopy procedure. Once the camera has completed its journey through the intestinal tract, your doctor will analyze the photographs it took to determine the source of unexplained small bowel bleeding. Complications are rare, and the procedure is contraindicated only for a small number of patients.

If you’ve experienced adhesions or obstructions in the past, for instance, there is a chance the capsule can become lodged in the GI tract. Your doctor is also likely to recommend additional tests prior to a capsule endoscopy procedure if you have any symptoms of bowel obstruction. Patients with permanent pacemaker devices may need to complete the procedure in a hospital setting, where they can be monitored for any potential complications.

If your doctor recommends a capsule endoscopy procedure to determine the source of small bowel bleeding, contact the GI Texas Center to schedule an appointment today for state-of-the-art, non-invasive testing.

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