This page explains about video capsule endoscopy and what to expect when your child comes to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to have this procedure.
A video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is usually done when the doctor wants to view the middle section of your child’s small intestine. This area cannot be viewed during a traditional gastroscopy. Your child will be asked to swallow a capsule containing a tiny light and camera, which transmits pictures of the digestive system to a data recorder worn on a belt around the waist.
Why is this test needed?
Your child needs this test so that the doctor or nurse can check the lining of your child’s small intestine to confirm or rule out particular diagnoses.
What happens before the test?
It is important that your child has a barium meal and follow through before he or she has video capsule endoscopy. You will receive information about how to prepare your child in your admission letter. He or she should not eat or drink anything for 12 hours before swallowing the capsule. This is so that there is a clear view of your child’s digestive system.
The nurse will explain about the test in more detail, discuss any worries you may have and ask you to sign a consent form giving permission for your child to have the test. If your child has any medical problems, particularly allergies, please tell the nurses about these. Please also bring in any medicines your child is currently taking and show them to the doctor.
What does the test involve?
You and your child will be taken to the Gastroenterology Investigation Suite to swallow the capsule. The nurse will put eight electrodes on your child’s abdomen, to which the data recorder is connected. This will be secured around your child’s waist.
Your child will be given a small amount of water to enable him or her to swallow the capsule. The capsule is not very big but it may take several goes to swallow it, particularly if your child is not used to taking tablets. We suggest that you allow your child to practise with medium-sized jelly beans.
The capsule will take and transmit lots of pictures as it travels through your child’s small intestine. This can take anything up to 10 hours. The capsule should be passed out in your child’s faeces (poo) in the next few days.
This test is done as a day case and your child is encouraged to carry on with normal activities. We will give you a special diet sheet.
What happens afterwards?
During the recording, which can last up to 10 hours from swallowing the capsule, a nurse will check the position of the capsule with a small computer. After eight or so hours of recording, a nurse will collect the data recorder. This is connected to a computer and the pictures are retrieved. A doctor or nurse will look at all the pictures to confirm or rule out particular diagnoses.
Are there any risks with this test?
The only risk is that the capsule could become stuck in your child’s small intestine. For this reason, we need to perform a barium meal and follow through first to check for blockages. If this is inconclusive, we may do a patency capsule test. This patency capsule breaks down naturally and does not take any pictures. It just tells us whether there are any blockages in your child’s small intestine.
How long will it take to get the results?
Your child’s test results will be given to you at your next outpatient appointment at the hospital. However, if there is a need to start on new treatment before the appointment, the hospital will contact both you and your family doctor (GP) with details.
When you go home
If you do not see the capsule in your child’s poo, you should call the ward or your family doctor (GP) if your child:
- develops a high temperature
- feels or is sick
- has tummy pain
Please note: your child should not have an MRI scan unless you have definitely seen the capsule in your child’s poo. Having an MRI scan when the capsule is still inside your child’s digestive system could cause serious damage.
Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: November 2007
Ref: 07F382 © GOSH Trust November 2007
Compiled by the Gastroenterology department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group.
This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.