Capsule endoscopy is a special form of endoscopy for visualizing the gastrointestinal tract: a capsule camera is swallowed, which automatically records images of the mucosa on its way through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine and sends them externally to a portable data recorder. These images are later reviewed by a physician and examined for pathological changes.
The main indication for the use of capsule endoscopy is in the examination of the small intestine, where it has an established place in the diagnosis of diseases of the small intestine. In particular, unexplained bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, in which gastroscopy and colonoscopy have not provided evidence of a source of bleeding, represents the main indication for this form of endoscopy. However, capsule endoscopy certainly has no place in the examination of the esophagus and stomach, and examination of the colon with a capsule has not yet gained acceptance.
It is important to note that one must prepare for capsule endoscopy with a thorough bowel cleansing. The most important contraindication is known or suspected narrowing (stenosis) in the intestine, as this could lead to intestinal obstruction with the need for surgery. Capsule endoscopy is performed during an inpatient stay. The capsule is swallowed in the morning of the day of admission, and the patient is discharged the next day in the morning; the images can only be evaluated and submitted later.
Of course, no interventions can be performed during capsule endoscopy: for example, it is not possible to take samples (biopsies) or stop bleeding. In the event of pathological findings, an enteroscopy may therefore then have to be performed.