Video capsule endoscopy

What is a video capsule endoscopy and how does it work?

Video Capsule Endoscopy (VCE) uses a pill-sized video capsule to investigate the inside of your body. This procedure involves you swallowing a small capsule which contains a colour camera, battery, light source and transmitter. The capsule is the size of a large vitamin pill.


The camera takes two pictures per second for 10 hours, transmitting images to a data recorder about the size of a portable CD player, worn around your waist.


VCE can help to investigate gastrointestinal conditions in the small bowel, such as:

Chronic abdominal pain
Iron deficiency anaemia (lack of iron in blood)
Suspected inflammatory bowel disease
Coeliac disease
Chronic diarrhoea


Once swallowed, the camera moves naturally through the digestive tract. Approximately 10 hours after ingesting the camera pill, you’ll return to the endoscopy suite where the recording device will be removed by the nurse. After this, the images are downloaded to a computer and evaluated by your consultant. The capsule is disposable and will be passed naturally in your bowel movement.

What are the risks of VCE?

No procedure is completely risk free, however VCE is extremely safe and has few risks and complications. It is important that you are aware of all the risks before you decide to go ahead with the procedure. Occasionally it is necessary to swallow a ‘dummy’ capsule (patency tablet) to test whether the actual video capsule will travel through the intestines.

At times, the intestines are slow and the capsule may not reach the colon or get stuck with the ten hours after ingestion. This will show on the video, and if so we will contact you to arrange an X-ray within one week to see if the capsule is still in the small intestine. If the dietary preparation has not worked well or the bowel is not clean enough, the examination images may be inadequate. This may require a repeat procedure.

Contact us

If you have any questions about London Digestive Health, you can get in touch with us by phone or email. We'll be happy to answer any questions and can also help you book an appointment.



Call:  020 7616 7645
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