Center for Digestive Diseases

UNM Hospitals Center
for Digestive Diseases

1001 Martin Luther King Ave. NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106

(505)272-2530 or

UNMH: (505)272-6839
CDD: (505)925-7849

Capsule Endoscopy

What is capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is an outpatient procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of your small intestine.  A capsule containing a camera and light source is swallowed and pictures are obtained while the capsule traverses your gastrointestinal tract.

Why is upper endoscopy performed?

Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate suspected small intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain, anemia, small intestinal ulcers, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.  It usually allows for examination of the entire small intestine, including areas not within the reach of an upper endoscope or colonoscope.

What preparation is required?

Your doctor recommends a bowel cleansing preparation to use in order for your small intestine to be clean enough for a good examination. Preparation instruction sheets are available below.  Please follow these instructions carefully. Proper cleaning of the small intestine is important because if the doctor cannot see the lining of the intestine well, he or she may recommend repeating the procedure.  An empty stomach and small intestine allows for the best examination.  Therefore, you should have nothing to eat or drink for six hours before your procedure.  If you have any questions about the bowel cleansing preparation or the dietary recommendations, please call our endoscopy center at 505-925-6000.

Procedure Preparation Instructions

Can I take my current medications?

Most medications can be continued as usual.  If there are any medications that you are not sure about taking, please consult your doctor, or call our endoscopy center at 505-925-6000.

What happens during capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is an outpatient procedure.  You will need to complete the small intestine cleansing outlined above.  You will need to avoid food and drink for six hours before your capsule endoscopy is started so that your stomach and small intestine is empty.  This will ensure the doctor can see the lining of your small intestine.  You will come to the Center for Digestive Disease and swallow the activated capsule and receive instructions on the computer device you will wear during the examination. You should plan on being at the center for approximately one hour. This will include the registration, preparation, swallowing the capsule and receiving instructions. 

What happens after capsule endoscopy?

You will be able to drive yourself home from the Center for Digestive Disease. You will need to return to the center the following day to return the data recorder where the pictures are electronically transmitted. After you return the data recorder, the images will be downloaded to a computer so your doctor can review the images of the lining of your small intestine.  The camera is expelled in your feces and flushed down the toilet.  It may take up to two weeks for your doctor to review the images and contact you with results.

What are possible complications of capsule endoscopy?

The capsule endoscope can rarely become lodged in a narrowing of the small intestine and this can cause blockage that may require surgery to relieve.  In order to rule out a small intestinal narrowing, your doctor may recommend a small bowel follow through x-ray test before proceeding to capsule endoscopy.  Your doctor may also recommend to undergo a test radio-opaque capsule, called a “patency capsule” that can be seen by x-ray, followed by a routine plain abdominal x-ray to ensure the capsule is able to traverse the entire small intestine before proceeding to capsule endoscopy.

Dedicated Specialists in this procedure:

Dr. Martin Kistin (Director)
Dr. Trent Taylor