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Capsule Endoscopy

Thank you for choosing Tufts Medical Center's GI Motility Service. We have provided the below instructions to ensure that your time in our care is as pleasant and safe as possible. Please read all instructions carefully before your capsule endoscopy procedure procedure as these directions are critical to your health and safety.

The procedure and what to expect

You have been scheduled for a capsule endoscopy. This procedure involves ingesting a small PillCam (the size of a large vitamin pill) which will pass naturally through your digestive system while taking pictures of the intestine. The images are transmitted to the sensor belt placed around your abdomen and these sensors are connected to a data recorder which you will wear for the duration of the test. The Pillcam SB capsule is disposable and will be excreted naturally in your bowel movement. In the rare case that it will not be excreted naturally, it will need to be removed endoscopically or surgically. 

In order for your physician to get the most accurate information from this examination, you will need to follow the instructions below.

Planning for your appointment

The Tufts Medical Center GI Motility Unit is located on the third floor in the Proger building. To find information on directions, parking and our campus map, visit the hospital locations and directions page >

When preparing to come to the Medical Center for your appointment, please be sure to first:

  • Be sure you have an insurance referral, if required by your insurance company.
  • Be prepared to pay any co-payment on the day of your procedure.
  • Please bring the following items with you:
    • Your completed medical questionnaire and list of medication(s).
    • Your hospital card.

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us at least 48 hours in advance to re-schedule: 617-636-6284.

Preparing for the procedure

The Day BEFORE the capsule endoscopy

  • You may have breakfast, but afterwards, only clear liquids until 10:00 PM.
  • After 10:00 PM, please do not eat or drink. EXCEPTION: You make take your medications with a sip of water

The Day OF the capsule endoscopy

  • You may take your medications with a small amount of water before 6:00 am.
  • Do not take any medications beginning two hours before your SB capsule endoscopy.
  • Arrive at the endoscopy suite on Proger 3 at the prescribed time. You should be dressed in loose fitting, two piece clothing.
  • When you arrive, you will have a pre-procedure interview. During the interview you should be informed that the SB capsule endoscopy is associated with a small chance of intestinal obstruction. You will be checked in and asked to give your informed consent.
  • The sensor belt will be secured around your abdomen, connected to the recorder, and you will be instructed to swallow the PillCam SB capsule.
  • You will return to the endoscopy unit at 3:00pm and we will check the study to see if it is complete.  The test may end at that time or you may be asked to stay an additional hour if not complete.


  • You may leave the hospital and return at 3:00PM.
  • You should not have anything to eat or drink for 2 hours after swallowing the capsule.
  • After 2 hours: you may have clear liquids (nothing red colored).
  • After 4 hours: you may have a light lunch (i.e. soup, sandwich).
  • After the exam is complete, you may return to your normal diet.

Other important information

Contact the GI department immediately at 617-636-6284 if you have any questions/concerns or if you develop abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting during the study.

After swallowing the PillCam SB capsule and until it is excreted, you should not be near any source of powerful electromagnetic fields such as an MRI or amateur (ham) radio.

SB Capsule endoscopy lasts approximately 8 hours. Do not disconnect the equipment or remove the belt at any time during this study period. Since the Date Recorder is a small computer, it should be treated with the utmost care and protection. Avoid sudden movement and banging of the Date Recorder.

During the SB capsule endoscopy, you will need to verify every 30 minutes that the small blinking light on top of the Date Recorder is blinking blue. If for some reason it stops, record the time and call the GI unit.

Avoid any strenuous physical activity and do not bend over or stoop during the study.  Also, do not get any of the equipment wet.