vintage film camera inside a pill

My First PillCam: A Guide On What To Expect

So today I've had my first ever PillCam and I thought I'd explain how it went for those potentially undergoing one. The PillCam is a relatively new type of technology in my country so I was excited to see how it went!

What is a PillCam or capsule endoscopy procedure?

A PillCam is something that lives up to its name: a pill that contains a camera inside of it! The goal is to swallow the pill, which will then take around 50,000 photos as it travels through your digestive tract.

A PillCam is often used for patients who have Crohn's in the ileum or small bowel since a colonoscopy isn't as effective as finding IBD in those places. If you have Crohn's in your large bowel then a colonoscopy is a better bet!

Preparing for a PillCam endoscopy

Like a colonoscopy, you'll need to follow a restricted diet before your PillCam. For me, that was three days on a low residue diet (so plenty of potatoes, rice, chicken, fish, and no high-fiber foods like vegetables or nuts).

The day before the PillCam, you'll need to follow a largely liquid diet so broths, black tea, and jelly. Then no liquids at all from 10 pm.

I was very relieved to see I didn't actually have to take prep for my PillCam. Google has revealed that this is up to the hospital: some advise patients just follow a fast while other doctors prescribe prep too. It seems I got the lucky end of this drawer and was spared prep which my bowels were very grateful for!

The PillCam experience

The PillCam experience was really simple. I arrived at the hospital at 8 am this morning and swallowed the pill there. It was really easy to swallow despite being quite big and solid! I think by this point I was excited to have water so swallowed it easily! It is much bigger than a regular supplement but my nurse pointed out I'd eaten much bigger pieces of food!

The nurse could see straight away it entered my system so I was then hooked up to the device which beams the photos from the pill cam to a monitor. I have to wear this for 8 hours and a special belt around me too.

Some hospitals keep you in for this but I was allowed to go home. I need to walk around every hour or so to keep the pill moving and keep my device on until bedtime.

Unfortunately, you can't eat or drink straight away: you'll need to not drink for a further two hours and then a light snack two hours after that. So unlike a colonoscopy where I can eat straight away, it's been 24 hours and I've only just had my light snack. Roll on dinner time!

A downside to a PillCam

One downside to a PillCam is I won't get my results straight away. I need to return the device tomorrow morning and then it's someone's job to look through every photo; a process I'm told could take weeks.

It's frustrating the results aren't instant but it is great I could leave the hospital and return to my day without any side effects!

Overall, I've been really impressed with how easy the PillCam has been. I'm hopeful this could be a regular test for me and a real alternative to MRIs and colonoscopies!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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