Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. A capsule endoscopy camera sits inside a vitamin-size capsule you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist.

Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine — an area that isn't easily reached with more-traditional endoscopy procedures. Traditional endoscopy involves passing a long, flexible tube equipped with a video camera down your throat or through your rectum.

Capsule endoscopy has also been approved for the screening of the colon for colon polyps for those for whom a colonoscopy couldn't be completed. But how and on whom it will be used is still being determined because better alternatives are available. As technology improves, capsule endoscopy of the colon may be used more in the future.

Capsule endoscopy has also been approved to evaluate the muscular tube that connects your mouth and your stomach (esophagus) to look for abnormal, enlarged veins (varices). It's rarely used because experience with it is limited and traditional upper endoscopy is widely available.

Sept. 18, 2015