Endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure done to allow visualisation of the internal gastrointestinal tract, for diagnosis or treatment of various conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon and rectum. Traditionally an endoscopic procedure is done in Dr Mbao's rooms or day theatre using a flexible tube equipped with a video camera inserted through either the mouth or anus during a gastroscopy or colonoscopy, however, more recently, this procedure can be done using a capsule endoscopy.

Instead of the traditional endoscopy which can only be done on either the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract, a small vitamin-sized capsule fitted with a wireless camera can be swallowed to provide images of your entire gastrointestinal tract – from the oesophagus to rectum.

Why might a capsule endoscopy be necessary?

A capsule endoscope may be needed for similar reasons to the traditional variant to find the cause for symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn, difficulties swallowing, anaemia, vomiting blood, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation or chronic diarrhoea – or for diagnosis of gastrointestinal conditions including:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • Coeliac disease
  • Barrett's oesophagus
  • Cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon and rectum
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

In suitable cases, Dr Mbao may advise a capsule endoscopy as this method provides a more comprehensive assessment of the gastrointestinal tract and is less invasive than traditional methods.

What does a capsule endoscopy involve?

A capsule endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis at home. Prior to the procedure, Dr Mbao will ask that you empty your stomach by refraining from eating for at least 12 hours before the procedure and taking the laxative prescribed to you.

Before you swallow the capsule, your gastroenterologist will place adhesive patches on your abdomen. These patches will record the data from the camera in the capsule, as it passes through the digestive tract. The capsulated micro camera will then be swallowed. As the camera travels through the gastrointestinal tract, thousands of pictures will be taken and transmitted to the recorder that is worn around your waist as a belt.

You should be able to continue your day as normal for the duration of the procedure; however heavy lifting, and strenuous activities should be avoided. Your gastroenterologist will advise whether or not you may consume any liquids or foods during the day and if so, what types and when. Depending on your digestive system, the capsule should be passed with your bowel movement a few hours or days later. Once passed you can remove the patches and belt and schedule a follow-up appointment with Dr Mbao. With the images gathered from the capsule, he should be able to make an accurate diagnosis and plan your treatment.