Capsule endoscopy is generally a safe procedure that carries few risks for adults or for children who are able to swallow the capsule. In most cases, the capsule leaves your body when you have a bowel movement later in the day or within several days. It does not need to be retrieved.

Occasionally, the capsule can become lodged in the digestive tract. The risk is under 1.5 percent for most people who have capsule endoscopy. The risk may be higher in people diagnosed with Crohn's disease (5 to 13 percent) or people who have an intestinal blockage (up to 25 percent). Your doctor may recommend barium X-ray, CT or MRI tests before capsule endoscopy if you have symptoms of intestinal blockage.

If you're not experiencing any signs and symptoms of the capsule being stuck, your doctor may wait to see whether the capsule eventually leaves your body on its own. It's very unusual for a retained capsule to cause any symptoms. If the capsule is retained, surgery may be considered. The capsule can also be retrieved using balloon enteroscopy, which involves inserting a long, thin tube equipped with a camera down your throat or up through your rectum.

People who have a permanent pacemaker or defibrillator may be hospitalized during capsule endoscopy for electrocardiographic monitoring during the procedure.

Sept. 27, 2012