Gastroenterology Procedure Unit
A wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE) is an exam of the small intestine using a capsule containing a tiny camera, which can be easily swallowed by most children. The capsule is about the size of a large vitamin.
It takes pictures throughout the small intestine by sending images to a recorder -- about the size of a portable CD player -- that you or your child wears around the waist. The recorder must be worn for about eight hours. Eight stickers are placed on you or your child's abdomen to assist the capsule in capturing the pictures. The pictures captured by the recorder are downloaded into a computer program and reviewed by the Gastroenterologist.
Why is the test necessary?
The capsule travels throughout the entire small intestine to places where an endoscope cannot reach or examine, allowing for a full look of the small bowel. This is important for patients with bleeding lesions in the small intestine that have gone undetected by upper endoscopy and x-ray. Capsule endoscopy has also been useful in the diagnosis of small bowel Crohn's disease.
The day before the test
The day before the test, your child may eat a regular breakfast and lunch. After 2 p.m., only clear liquids are allowed. Please avoid all red colored liquids!
Examples of clear liquids are:
- apple juice
- white grape juice
- ginger ale
- powdered drink mixes such as Kool-aid or Crystal Lite
- clear soup broths
- Popsicles without real fruit juice
Your child should not have any solid food, milk and milk products, or juices with pulp (such as orange, pineapple or grapefruit juice) after 2 p.m. Medications may be taken as usual the day before the test.
Please note: Your child must be able to swallow pills about the size of a jelly-bean to have this procedure done. If he or she is unable to do this, please let us know. The capsule may be placed endoscopically if necessary.
The morning of the test
- Please allow enough time to get to the hospital on time. If you arrive late, the procedure will have to be cancelled.No medications should be taken the morning of the test. However, you should bring medications with you to the hospital.
- Your child may drink clear liquids until three hours before the scheduled procedure time. Nothing else -- including water, gum or hard candy -- should be ingested after this time.
What happens during the test?
The test is usually done in the Endoscopy Unit on Farley 3 in the main hospital at Boston Children's Hospital. The capsule will be administered by a registered nurse from the Endoscopy staff. A gastroenterologist (doctor) will answer any questions you may have prior to the test.
After your child's waist, height and weight are measured, eight stickers will be placed on your child's abdomen, which will be connected to the recording device. A loose soft wrap will be wrapped around your child's abdomen to keep the stickers in place.
Your child will then swallow the capsule with a small amount of water. The recorder and battery pack will be belted around your child's waist. The nurse will review diet, exercise and return time instructions with you.
What happens after the test?
Following the exam, your child may resume normal activities, including exercise, and may resume all medications immediately. Until the capsule passes out of the body, further testing including any type of MRI, should be avoided. The capsule will pass naturally in a bowel movement, typically in about 24 hours.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call the page operator at
617-355-6369 and ask for the GI fellow on call.