Endoscopy in a capsule

endoscopy in a capsule

Consultant Gastroenterologist

Dr Rishi Goel is a specialist Gastroenterologist with expertise in Endoscopy and Inflammatory bowel disease. He has travelled internationally with a number of clinical attachments abroad, as well as publishing many articles he is currently leading clinical trials in the search for ever more effective treatments.

What is video capsule endoscopy?

A tiny camera in a capsule is used to explore conditions of the small bowel. This is a new service that offers a simple way to investigate an area of the body that is difficult to reach. Traditional endoscopy involves the patient having to undergo invasive procedures or have imaging scans that require specialist operators.

Instead, with a MiroCam video capsule endoscopy, patients are asked to swallow a small disposable capsule, roughly the size of an ordinary tablet, which contains a camera that takes images of the gastrointestinal tract as it travels naturally through your digestive system. These images are transmitted to a data recorder the patient wears on a belt.  This data is later transferred to a computer for interpretation by a specialist doctor. The disposable camera is passed out of the body in your stools.  

What conditions can it check for?

If you’ve been suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms, it can be worrying as to what’s going on. This device allows us to offer a simple, fast test that can give patients peace of mind. What’s more it has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is known to be a safe and simple procedure.

Common conditions it can investigate:

  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Persistent iron deficiency anaemia
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease

State-of-the art technology for easy diagnosis

Advances in technology, mean the small bowel can now be accurately examined in a non-invasive way. Previously options tended to be confined to traditional endoscopy techniques, such as oral enteroscopy or rectum ileoscopy, that can be uncomfortable for the patient and technically challenging for the doctor performing the procedure.  

While other methods for exploring the small bowel, like barium meal imaging and computed tomography (CT) don’t always give a clear picture, and MRI scans which are clear, require a radiologist with specialist experience to interpret the results.

In contrast, the MiroCam® video capsule endoscopy system, is more convenient for patients and delivers excellent lens resolution, providing high definition images, not only of the small bowel but also of the whole gastrointestinal tract. New capsules can be used to examine the oesophagus and colon.

 Faster results

Due to the ease of this technique it can be used to screen patients quickly. It’s also an effective way to reduce waiting time for patients, who may be worrying about results. This is because the images can be quickly downloaded and interpreted by an experienced gastroenterologist. Doctors are then usually able to send patients a report of their findings within 24 hours. These results are then discussed at a follow-up clinic appointment.

How to prepare for video capsule endoscopy

  • You are able to have a light lunch the day before the investigation, and then a fast of clear fluids.
  • There’s an initial 30 minute appointment during which the capsule is ingested.
  • You’ll need to wear a data recorder on a belt, and have small sensor pads stuck onto your abdomen. Once these have has been attached, you’ll be free to go about your normal day – including going to work, returning approximately 8 hours later. This could be that evening or the next day, to give back the data recorder.
  • Four hours after you’ve swallowed the capsule you’re allowed to eat and drink as normal.


The part of the body that contains the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs. Full medical glossary
Relating to the abdomen, which is the region of the body between the chest and the pelvis. Full medical glossary
A reduced level of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Anaemia causes tiredness, breathlessness and abnormally pale skin. Full medical glossary
An X-ray examination of the stomach, taken after swallowing a liquid that shows up clearly on the X-ray (barium sulphate). Full medical glossary
A common name for the large and/or small intestines. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
The large intestine. Full medical glossary
Examination of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, an imaging instrument that is inserted through the anus. Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for computed tomography, a scan that generates a series of cross-sectional x-ray images Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
When bowel evacuation happens more often than usual, or where the faeces are abnormally liquid. Full medical glossary
Examination of the inside of the body using a tube equipped with a light source and either a small camera or an optical system. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
A doctor who specialises in the digestive system and its disorders. Full medical glossary
The gut, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. Full medical glossary
intermittent claudication Full medical glossary
relating to the intestines, the digestive tract between the stomach and the anus Full medical glossary
An element present in haemoglobin in the red cells. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
An abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging, a technique for imaging the body that uses electromagnetic waves and a strong magnetic field. Full medical glossary
Any test or technique that does not involve penetration of the skin. The term 'non-invasive' may also describe tumours that do not invade surrounding tissues. Full medical glossary
The gullet, the part of the gastrointestinal system that extends down from the mouth cavity to the stomach. Full medical glossary
A doctor specializing in the interpretation of imaging techniques for the diagnosis and assessment of disease. Full medical glossary
The last part of the large intestine, where faeces are stored before being passed. Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary
A tube placed inside a tubular structure in the body, to keep it patent, that is, open. Full medical glossary