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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