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How do I have a Small Bowel Video Capsule Endoscopy?

This section outlines the steps of having a small bowel video capsule endoscopy:

  • Pre-procedure preparation

  • Arrival to the unit

  • During the procedure

  • After the procedure

Pre-procedure preparation

To ensure that the the capsule is able to take could quality images as it travels through the small intestine it is important that the following instructions are adhered to. 

One Week Before

Do not take any iron tablets for one week before the small bowel video capsule endoscopy.

Avoid opiate or codeine containing pain relief medication, e.g co-codamol or dihydrocodeine for one week before the small bowel video capsule endoscopy.

The Day Before 

  • Have a light lunch around 12:00pm. Do not eat anything after 1:00pm. Clear fluids are allowed until midnight. Sugar may be added to the drinks if you feel weakness or tiredness.

COMMENCE MOVIPREP preparation (see Preparation of MOVIPREPTake the first sachet of Moviprep at 3:00pm. 

DRINK PLENTY of clear fluids throughout the treatment with MOVIPREP. Try to drink at least a glass full every hour during the treatment. Water, fizzy drinks, clear soups or meat extracts may be taken at any time. You can also drink tea or coffee without milk. Please click here for top tips for taking bowel preparation.

MOVIPREP will cause diarrhoea and occaisonally cramps and nausea. It is advised that you stay within easy access of a toilet after taking it. You should also use a barrier cream such as ZInc and Castor Oil on your bottom to prevent any soreness.

  • Take the second sachet of Moviprep at 7:00pm.

  • Do not eat or take tablets or drink anything after midnight.


On The Day

  • Bring a list of all the medication prescribed to you by your GP plus any other medication you take.

  • Wear loose-fitting, two piece clothing for easy attachment of the belt.

During the procedure

Arrival to the unit

When you arrive at the Endoscopy Unit you will first be booked in by the receptionist. After this you will be reviewed by a member of the specialist nursing team who will ask you a few questions about your medical condition as well as your arrangements for getting home after the procedure.

The nurse will also record your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. If you are a diabetic they will also measure your blood glucose level. This information is used to confirm that you are fit enough to undergo the procedure.


You may now have to wait some time before your procedure starts. Before you go into the endoscopy room, the endoscopist will come and discuss with you the aspects of the procedure, you will then be asked to sign the consent form which will explain why you are having the procedure as well as the associated risks and benefits. You can withdraw your consent for the procedure at point. Should you have any further questions or need to raise any concerns; the endoscopist will gladly discuss them with you.

During the procedure

Once you are ready for your procedure, you will be taken into the examination room where the team will introduce themselves. The team will do checks to confirm your details, your medications and confirm you understand the procedure and have signed the consent form.  

A sensor belt which is connected to the record box will then be attached to you (see image 2). You will then be asked to swallow the capsule.

The capsule is a similar size to a vitamin pill. The approximate dimensions are 11mm x 4mm (see image 1).

Following this, you will be allowed to go home and asked to return the equipment to the Endoscopy Unit the following morning.

After swallowing the capsule

When can I eat?

Do not eat, drink or take any tablets for at least 3 hours. After 5 hours you may have a light snack. You will be told what time you can eat and drink before you leave. After the examination is completed, which will be when the blue light goes off or it is your bed time, or the capsule is passed into the toilet, remove the equipment as shown by the endoscopist.

Does anything interfere with the recording?

  • Until the capsule is passed, do not go near any powerful electro-magnetic sources e.g MRI scanners

  • Do not disconnect the equipment or remove the belt for the duration of the recording.

  • It is important that you take care of the recording box. Although it is relatively sturdy, excessive force will break it.

  • During the recording please check every 30 minutes that the small blue light on the recorder is blinking at 2 blinks per second. If for any reason it stops blinking at this rate, record the time and contact the department.

  • Record the time and nature of events such as eating and drinking within the diary that the Unit will provide.

  • Avoid any strenuous activities, especially if it involves sweating. Do not bend over or stoop during the small bowel video capsule endoscopy. These activities can all interfere with the belt and hence the recording.

Mobile phones and television remote controls do not interfere with the radio signal from the capsule. It is advisable not to be near WIFI networks as these can potentially cause interference. 

What happens to the capsule?

The capsule is for single use and designed to be disposable. It will pass naturally through you with normal bowel motion and without discomfort. We do not want the capsule to be returned to the Unit.

When will I get the results?

The computer needs to download the images from the recorder box overnight. Over 50,000 images need to be looked at and this can take some time, especially as an abnormality may only be present on one or two of the pictures. You will receive official notification of the results at your next outpatient appointment. A formal report will be sent to your GP.

You will be able to return to your normal activities, both at home and at work, when you feel comfortable.

If you have a question or concern after the test, please phone the Endoscopy Unit. If you experience any abdominal pain, cramping or difficulty swallowing please contact your Endoscopy Unit.

You must consult your nearest A&E department if you: develop severe chest pain, a fever or pass large amounts of blood after the procedure.

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