Capsule endoscopy is a safe procedure that carries few risks. However, it's possible for a capsule to become lodged in the digestive tract rather than leaving your body in a bowel movement within several days.
The risk, which is small, might be higher in people who have a condition — such as a tumor, Crohn's disease or previous surgery in the area — that causes a narrowing (stricture) in the digestive tract. If you have abdominal pain or are at risk of a narrowing of your intestine, your doctor likely will get a CT scan to look for a narrowing before using capsule endoscopy. Even if the imaging study is negative, there's still a small chance that the capsule could get stuck.
If the capsule hasn't passed in a bowel movement but isn't causing signs and symptoms, your doctor might give the capsule more time to leave your body. However, a capsule causing signs and symptoms that indicate bowel obstruction must be removed, either by surgery or through a traditional endoscopy procedure, depending on where the capsule is stuck.
Sept. 18, 2015
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- Mitselos IV, et al. Role of wireless capsule endoscopy in the follow-up of inflammatory bowel disease. World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 2015;7:643.
- Picco MP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. July 6, 2015.