A capsule endoscopy, also known as PillCam™, is a test done to examine the small intestine. This involves swallowing a capsule the size of a large vitamin pill.
- If your child is not able to swallow the capsule, it may be placed during an endoscopy that will be done with general anesthesia (while your child is asleep).
- The capsule has its own camera and light source. As the capsule travels through your child's intestine, over 10,000 pictures are sent to a recorder your child wears in a waist belt (Picture 1).
- About 8 hours after your child swallows the capsule, the recorder will be taken off and the pictures will be downloaded to a computer so your doctor can review them. The PillCam™ is disposable; it will pass naturally in your child's bowel movement.
How to Prepare for the Test
- For 7 days before the test do not give your child iron or Carafate®.
- For 3 days before the test your child should not take Pepto-Bismol® or any product that contains bismuth.
- For 1 day (24 hours) before the test do not give your child over-the-counter antacids.
- Give your child all of his other regular medicines.
- Bring a bottle of simethicone (Mylicon®) to the appointment. You can buy this without a prescription at a pharmacy.
How the Test Is Done
- This test is usually done in the GI Procedure Room.
- Your child will have one dose of Mylicon® right before swallowing the capsule. This medicine will reduce the amount of bubbles in your child’s intestine (Picture 2).
- There may be several antennas (sensors) attached to your child's chest and abdomen with adhesive pads. These sensors will attach to the recorder that your child will wear in a belt around his waist. If your child has hair on his chest or abdomen, it will be shaved. Some patients will have only the belt and recorder without the adhesive pads.
- Your child will then swallow the capsule with a cup of water.
- Two hours after swallowing the capsule, your child may have clear liquids. In 4 hours, he may have a light snack. You may then go home or leave the hospital for 8 hours.
- You will need to keep a record of your child’s eating, drinking and activity during the test.
- When you come back to the hospital, the sensors and waist belt and recorder, if used, will be removed.
After the Test
- After the equipment is removed, you and your child will be ready to leave the hospital.
- Your child may go back to a regular diet and activity.
- Your doctor will review the test and you will be notified of the results within 1 to 2 weeks.
- Please check your child’s bowel movements to monitor for the passing of the PillCam™.
- If you have not seen the PillCam™ in your child’s stool within 1 week after the test, contact the GI office at (614) 722-3450.
Risks and Complications
Although problems from the test are rare, they can occur. The problems are related to partial bowel blockage (the pill getting stuck). This may happen when a part of the intestine is too small because of a narrowing from inflammation or past surgery.
- If your child gets bloated (abdomen gets enlarged), has abdominal pain or is vomiting, call the GI Procedure Room at (614) 722-3477.
- Although very rare, if the capsule gets stuck and is not able to pass, your child may need surgery to fix the blockage and remove the PillCam™.
When to Call Us
Contact the GI office at (614) 722-3450 if your child has any of these symptoms after completing the test:
- Trouble swallowing
- Increasing chest pain within 24 to 48 hours after the test
- Vomiting, bloating or abdominal pain
- The PillCam™ does not pass after 1 week
What to Do At Home
During the test your child should avoid vigorous activity, such as running or jumping and rough-housing.
The recorder is actually a small computer. It should be protected and handled with care. Do not disconnect or remove the equipment during the test. Check the recorder every hour. Look for a blue blinking light. If the blue light is not blinking, call the GI Procedure Room at (614) 722-3445.
After swallowing the capsule and until it is passed out of the body, your child should not be near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as an MRI device or amateur radio. If your child cannot say for sure that he passed the PillCam™ capsule and he has unexplained nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting after the test, call the GI office at (614) 722-3450.
HH-III-107 7/06, Revised 2/11 Copyright 2006 - 2011, Nationwide Children’s Hospital