Capsule endoscopy or Pillcam

Capsule endoscopy (Pillcam)

A capsule endoscopy (often referred to as pillcam) is a small pill with a camera inside and is used to inspect the inside of the small bowel. It is most often used to find a cause or site of  gastrointestinal bleeding that  was not able to be identified on a gastroscopy or colonoscopy

The test involves swallowing a capsule, which is about the size of a large vitamin pill. This capsule takes photos as it travels through your small bowel which are then transmitted to a recorder which is worn  around your waist. The capsule takes images for approximately 8 hours, by which time it would have passed from the small bowel into the colon. You will eventually pass the pillcam unnoticed when you have a bowel action and it does not need to be retrieved.

Are there risks involved with capsule endoscopy

There is a small risk (approximately 1 in 200) of  the capsule becoming stuck in the small bowel . If this happens you may require surgery to have it removed. If you have any conditions that increase the risk of the capsule getting stuck (such as small bowel narrowing from surgery, radiation or Crohn’s disease), you may not be able to have the test.

How much will it cost?

Capsule endoscopy is fully reimbursed by medicare with no out of pocket costs as long as you meet the specified criteria (this includes certain situations of gastrointestinal blood loss and having previously had a gastroscopy and colonoscopy).