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PillCam Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy

Make an Appointment

Your doctor has suggested you have a Pillcam® endoscopy as part of your evaluation at National Jewish Health. A Pillcam® endoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the small intestine. This is not intended to examine the esophagus, stomach or colon. It does not replace the upper endoscopy or total colonoscopy.

During the Test

When you arrive, the nurse will explain what will be done before, during and after the Pillcam® Endoscopy. If you have any questions, please ask them.

The Pillcam is a capsule you swallow that contains a minature video camera. The camera takes pictures of your small intestine as it passes through. It transmits the pictures to a data recorder which you will wear on a belt.  The test takes about 8-9 hours to complete. 

Preparing for the Test

To ensure the best results for your PillCam® capsule endoscopy, follow these instructions carefully and completely.

Inform your health care provider if you have or had:

  • Implanted pacemaker or other implanted devices,
  • Trouble swallowing,
  • Possible obstruction or stricture in the GI tract,
  • History of GI surgery and/or
  • Radiation of the abdomen for cancer.

The day before the Pillcam® endoscopy:

  • When you wake up the day before the Pillcam endoscopy, you will begin a clear liquid diet. This includes clear fruit juices, broth, Popsicles, jello, coffee, tea, etc. Do not eat or drink anything with red, purple or orange coloring, milk, creamer or dairy products. No solid food is allowed, as this may compromise the quality of the study.
  • Your doctor will provide you with a prescription for a bowel prep. Start drinking the prep at 4:00 p.m.
  • Begin drinking an 8-10 oz. glass of the prep every 15 minutes until 2 liters, or 1/2 of the bottle is consumed. If you have a 4 liter bottle, divide it in half. You will drink 2 liters, or 1/2 of the jug.
  • Save the remaining 1/2 bottle or 2 liters in the refrigerator.
  • Do not take iron supplements for 5 days prior to the capsule ingestion.
  • Do not take carafate or antacids for 24 hours prior to the capsule ingestion.

The day of the Pillcam® endoscopy:

  • Starting at 2 a.m. the day of the procedure, drink the second half of the bottle (remaining 2 liters).  Drink an 8-10 oz glass of the remaining prep every 15 minutes until the second half of the bottle is gone.
  • Do take any heart, blood pressure or seizure medicine at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after you swallow the capsule with a few sips of water.
  • If you are diabetic and take insulin, talk with the doctor who prescribes your insulin about reducing the dose the day of the exam.
  • If you are diabetic, please bring your glucose meter, test strips, and a source of fast-acting glucose with you (such as glucose tablets or glucose gel).
  • Wear a dark colored upper garment of a thin, natural fiber such as a T-shirt that is long enough to reach at least to hip level and will not ride up above the belt. Please wear comfortable, loose, 2-piece clothing and undergarments. Do not use lotions or powder on the abdominal area the day of the exam.  
  • Arrive for your appointment at the scheduled time: 7:30 a.m.
  • Please check in at admissions and tell them you need to go the MIDC East. You will swallow the capsule and be fitted with a belt containing the data recorder. You will wear this all day.

After swallowing the Pillcam® capsule:

  • You may drink clear liquids starting 2 hours after swallowing the PillCam® capsule. This includes clear fruit juices, broth, Popsicles, jello, coffee, tea, etc.  Do not drink anything with red, purple or orange coloring milk, creamer or dairy products.
  • After the exam is completed, you may return to your normal diet (8 hours after ingestion of the PillCam®).
  • Be sure the SensorBelt is tight at the waist. Do not attach anything to it.
  • Check the blue flashing data recorder light every 15 minutes to be sure it is blinking twice per second. If it stops blinking or changes color, note the time and contact MIDC East at 303.270.2424.
  • Avoid strong electromagnetic fields such as MRI devices or ham radios after swallowing the capsule and until you pass it in a bowel movement.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not disconnect the equipment or completely remove the data recorder at any time during the exam.
  • Treat the data recorder carefully. Avoid sudden movements and banging of the data recorder.

After completing the Pillcam® endoscopy:

  • Return to MIDC East at 4:30 p.m. the same day to have the equipment removed.

Special Instructions

  • If you are not sure that the Pillcam® capsule has passed out of your body and you develop unexplained nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting, contact your doctor right away.
  • Having an MRI while the PillCam® capsule is inside your body may result in damage to your intestinal tract or abdominal cavity. If you have an MRI scheduled and did not see the PillCam® pass into your stool, contact your doctor to have an abdominal X-ray. This will check the passage of the PillCam® before your MRI. 

Length of the Test

The PillCam® endoscopy will last about 8 or 9 hours. Contact MIDC East at 303.270.2424 right away if you have any stomach pain, nausea or vomiting during the exam.  

Getting to Your Test

Please check in at the Front Desk and tell them you need to go MIDC East.

If you have questions, please call 303.270.2424. Also, if you need to cancel the appointment please call.


This information has been approved by Miranda Y. Ku, MD, MPH (October 2014).