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Video Capsule Endoscopy

What is Video Capsule endoscopy?

Video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used primarily to examine the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, particularly the small intestine, which can be hard to visualize with traditional endoscopy procedures like a colonoscopy or an upper GI endoscopy.

The most common reason for capsule endoscopy is to search for a cause of bleeding or anemia from the small intestines. Bleeding from the small bowel is rare and difficult to diagnose. It may also be useful to detect polyps, inflammatory bowel diseases, celiac disease, ulcers, and tumors of the small intestines.

The device is the size of a large pill. The procedure involves swallowing this pill-sized device (the “capsule”) that is equipped with a tiny camera. As the capsule travels through the digestive tract, it takes thousands of photographs that are transmitted wirelessly to a device worn by the patient called a data recorder.

The capsule is typically excreted naturally within 24 to 72 hours. The patient returns the data recorder to the doctor who downloads the information to their computer and can review detailed pictures of the capsule as it passed through the intestines looking for abnormalities and possible sources of bleeding.

The capsule is safe and easy to swallow. It is highly effective at finding the sources of bleeding in the small bowel.

The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis and requires a certain preparation, including fasting for 12 hours before the exam and possibly the use of a laxative to clean out the GI tract. It’s considered safe with a low risk of complications. Your Rockford GI doctor will give you complete instructions including the need to adjust certain medications before the testing and what to avoid during the test.

Complications are rare. However, the most serious potential complication is capsule retention. It occurs when the capsule becomes stuck in the digestive tract. This is more likely to happen when there is a narrowing (stricture) or blockage in the intestines. If the capsule does not pass naturally within two weeks, it may need to be removed endoscopically or surgically. Patients with known strictures, adhesions, or history of abdominal surgeries are typically screened with a dissolvable ‘patency capsule’ first to ensure a real capsule can pass safely.

Your board-certified gastroenterologist at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates in Rockford Illinois will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about this test.

Insurance coverage for video capsule endoscopy (VCE) can vary significantly depending on the insurance company, the specifics of the individual insurance plan, and the medical necessity of the procedure.

Our doctors are providers for major insurance companies and Medicare. In general, most private insurance companies and public payers like Medicare and Medicaid in the United States will cover the cost of VCE if it’s deemed medically necessary.

Patients should also ask about out-of-pocket costs, as deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance can vary widely depending on the insurance plan. In some cases, the costs associated with the procedure, such as the initial consultation, the capsule itself, the associated lab work, and the follow-up visit, might be billed separately, so it’s essential to get a full understanding of all potential charges.

Rockford Gastroenterology Associates is committed to high-quality cost-conscious patient care. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more.

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