Small Bowel Capsule Instructions

Capsule endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows a physician to examine  the small bowel (also called the small intestine) without surgery.  Our gastroenterologists perform small bowel capsule tests to look for abnormalities in your small intestine such as evidence of inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding or other lesions. For the test to give accurate results, your digestive tract has to be thoroughly clean. The exam does not replace upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. The capsule obtains two images per second and transmits the data to a recording device worn about a patient’s waist. Once the study is completed, the recording device is downloaded to a computer workstation whose software provides the images to a computer screen. The capsule is disposable and does not need to be retrieved by a patient. It is passed naturally in a bowel movement.

How do I prepare myself for the examination?

To ensure the best results for your small bowel capsule study, follow your doctors instructions carefully and completely.


  1. Start a liquid diet after breakfast (water, clear fruit juices, soda, coffee or tea, broth)
  2. Beginning at 6 pm, take one bottle of magnesium citrate and at 10 pm take a second bottle of magnesium citrate. Do not take magnesium citrate if you have a history of kidney disease.
  3. If you can not take the magnesium citrate secondary to kidney disease or any other reason, please drink 1 glass of colyte (8 ounces) every 10 minutes until finished with half of the container (2 liters) starting at 6 pm.
  4. Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum except for necessary medication with a sip of water 12 hours prior to your capsule endoscopy. Iron pills should not be taken for 3 days prior to the examination.


  1. Please arrive at the office wearing loose fitting, two piece clothing. Preferably, wear an upper garment made of a thin, natural fiber such as a T-shirt that is long enough to reach to hip level and will not ride up above the belt.
  2. Do not take your regular medications. You will be able to take them 3 hours after swallowing the capsule.
  3. The sensor belt and recording device will be attached to our waist line over your belly button and should remain there.
  4. You will then swallow the small bowel capsule.


(Contact your doctor’s office immediately if you suffer from any abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting during the procedure)

  1. Do not eat or drink for at least 2 hours.
  2. After 4 hours, you may have a light lunch and continue drinking clear liquids throughout the day.
  3. Please be sure the sensor belt is tight at the waist.
  4. Check the blue flashing PillCam recorder every 15 minutes to be sure it is blinking twice per second. If it stops blinking or changes color, note the time and contact your doctor.
  5. Do not disconnect the equipment at any time. You should not be near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as one created near an MRI device.
  6. Avoid any strenuous physical activity including bending over during the test
  7. Return to the doctors office at the scheduled time to have the equipment removed. If you were instructed to remove the equipment by yourself , do the following.
    • Remove the sensor belt and the PillCam record and keep them in a safe place
    • Return all the equipment to your doctor’s office as soon as possible. Handle the PillCam recorder and other equipment carefully without exposing them to shock vibration or direct sunlight.
  8. If your are not sure that the capsule has passed out of your body and you develop unexplained nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting, contact your doctor for evaluation
  9. Undergoing an MRI while the PillCam capsule is inside your body may result in damage to your intestinal tract or abdominal cavity. If you are not certain the capsule is out of your body, contact you physician for evaluation and possible abdominal x-ray before undergoing an MRI examination
Manhattan Gastroenterology Locations:
Gastroenterology Upper East Side
983 Park Ave Ste 1D
New York, NY 10028
(212) 427-8761
Gastroenterology Midtown
51 East 25th St Ste 407
New York, NY 10010
(212) 533-2400
Gastroenterology Union Square
55 W 17th St Ste 102
New York, NY 10011
(212) 378-9983