Capsule Endoscopy

What is capsule endoscopy?
Capsule endoscopy, also known as a video capsule endoscopy or wireless capsule endoscopy, is a relatively new procedure scientifically designed to visualize the digestive tract. The procedure requires the patient to swallow a small pill-shaped camera that rapidly snaps thousands of pictures as it travels through the digestive system. A physician with a trained eye then carefully reviews the pictures to find abnormalities in the stomach or intestines.

What is the difference between upper endoscopy and capsule endoscopy?
While both procedures enable the physician to visualize the digestive tract and help diagnose the problem, the main advantage that a capsule endoscopy has over an upper endoscopy is that capsule endoscopy can expose the entire small intestine whereas upper endoscopy only covers the upper portion of the digestive tract. This advantage allows for a more through evaluation of small intestinal irregularities such as polyps, intestinal cancer, intestinal bleeding, tumors, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

Capsule endoscopy is a less invasive procedure than a traditional upper endoscopy. The only uncomfortable aspect of wireless capsule endoscopy is swallowing the pill, which is the same size as a large vitamin tablet. However, this is not a problem for most patients. Since patients remain painless for the duration of capsule endoscopy, this procedure does not require intravenous sedation or use of pain medications.

What to expect for a capsule endoscopy?
To prepare for your procedure, Dr. Khorrami will ask that you fast for at least 10-12 hours. You may also be required to take a gentle laxative the day prior to the procedure. If you have a significant amount of trouble swallowing pills or any possibility of an intestinal blockage, then Dr. Khorrami may opt for a different endoscopic procedure.

Are there any limitations of capsule endoscopy?
As with any procedure, there may be problems that may prevent Dr. Khorrami from viewing your small intestine when using this technique.

If the capsule travels through your system too fast, then the images displayed on the computer monitor may be harder to interpret. If the capsule travels too slowly, then the battery may die out before the capsule has passed through the entire small intestine.

The capsule may also become stuck if your intestines are narrowed from scarring, tumors, or other related problems. A dummy capsule can sometimes be used first to make sure a real capsule is able to run its full course.

Is capsule endoscopy safe?
Yes, this procedure is very safe. The only complication that may arise is when the capsule becomes stuck in the intestine, which is typically caused by a pre-existing intestinal blockage. If that happens, the only remedy may be surgical exploration and removal of capsule. In most people, however, the capsule will successfully leave the body through the bowel movements.

Discuss Your Options with Dr. Khorrami
Dr. Khorrami has been in practice since 1996 as a double-board certified gastroenterologist, has experienced a variety of patient cases, and is well trained to solve your digestive problems. Get in touch to learn more about the capsule endoscopy procedure and how you can benefit from it.


“Dr. Khorrami and his team are the best. They provide full service care that is above and beyond the norm these days."
View More Testimonials

Our Pledge

  • To listen to you and understand your needs
  • To empower you in healthcare decisions
  • To provide state of the art medical care
  • To support you with knowledge and experience

About Dr. Khorrami

Dr. Payman Khorrami is a UCLA graduate, has been in practice since 1996, and is double board certified. Undergraduate Education at University of California, Berkeley, Medical School at University of California, San Francisco, Internal Medicine Training at University of California, San Diego Read Full Bio