Capsule Endoscopy Pros and Cons List

Not many people have heard about Capsule Endoscopy but compared to traditional Endoscopy (Colonoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy, it’s no wonder that people prefer it.

What is Capsule Endoscopy?

Like the name suggests it is a capsule shape camera independent of wires which the patient swallows. As it makes it’s way down it takes pictures of the gastrointestinal tract, allowing doctors to see pictures of the whole process, rather than just a section. Unfortunately other types of Endoscopy cannot reach the majority of the middle section of the intestine but with tiny camera it is now possible.

It sounds fantastic, allowing what seems to be an advance in diagnosis technology but what do we know about it really?

The Pros of Capsule Endoscopy

1. It can take pictures of the whole process down the gastrointestinal tract, including parts missed by other Endoscopy methods.

2. It’s painless and practically symptom-less. The capsule itself is the same size as a normal pill and after following the tract will pass in faeces as normal.

3. It only take about 6-8 hours to get the data needed for a diagnosis and the camera can be tracked in real time allowing the team to know exactly where it is.

4. The images produced are high resolution

5. It takes two images every second

6. It is cost effective e.g. it costs around $500 compared to other endoscopy methods which cost $800 to $4000 +

7. Provides ways of early diagnosis of diseases and conditions e.g. CD

8. It is less worrying and evasive than other methods, meaning it is more comfortable for the patient. decreasing the stress and improving the quality of their experience.

9. Unlike traditional endoscopys there is no risk of damage to the tract and less risks of infections

The Cons of Capsule Endoscopy

1. If retention of the capsule occurs and it isn’t passed, the batteries will eventually die.

2. It shouldn’t be used in patients with bowel obstructions as this increases the risk of retention or adds to the problem of a blockage.

3. It is rare but some patients experience a small amount of pain as it passes through the intestines, this could be down to inflammation or lesions. However it is generally concluded that the small amount of pain outweighs the benefits of possible diagnosis.

4. There is a lot of data / images to go through so can be quite time consuming for the Gastroenterologist.

5. It cannot completely replace other endoscopy methods but should be the front line in diagnosing intestinal issues.

6. If the patient doesn’t follow instructions of retrieving the pill camera, it is possible it will become lost down the toilet.

It is an incredible advancement and is already helping improve the diagnosis of conditions.