Noninvasive capsule endoscopy (sometimes called “pill cam”) allows for visualization of the lining of the small intestine in areas of the intestine which cannot be seen with standard endoscopy. This can be helpful in the evaluation of a number of problems, such as identifying a source of bleeding in the small intestine, further evaluation of inflammatory bowel disease, or looking for polyps or other lesions in the small intestine.
The pediatric gastroenterologists at Nationwide Children’s have unique expertise in the use of capsule endoscopy as an important diagnostic tool in pediatric patients.
The capsule is about the size of a large vitamin pill and contains a light and video chip that sends images to a computer. Many can swallow the capsule. For those who cannot, the capsule can be placed in the small intestine using endoscopy; in this case, the child is asleep under anesthesia when the capsule is placed. The capsule travels through the intestinal tract taking pictures for eight hours. These pictures are captured by a receiver that the child wears on a belt. The capsule will ultimately be passed harmlessly in the stool and is discarded. Pictures are downloaded from the receiver and then reviewed by the doctor.
Capsule endoscopy is also a helpful diagnostic tool when used in combination with double balloon enteroscopy (DBE), a unique procedure that allows for high-definition visualization of the small bowel as well as therapeutic intervention. Nationwide Children’s is one of the first pediatric hospitals to use capsule endoscopy with DBE in the care of children and adolescents and these techniques have been used in a number of successful cases from across the United States.