Video Capsule Endoscopy; small bowel, UGI and colon capsule


Video capsule

Dr McLaughlin undertook specialist training in video capsule endoscopy at St. Thomas’ Hospital London. He leads the video capsule endoscopy service at the Royal Bournemouth hospital, Bournemouth Private Clinic and the Nuffield hospital Bournemouth.

In addition to small bowel video capsule endoscopy he provides Dorset’s only upper GI (UGI) capsule endoscopy service as well as Dorset’s only colon capsule endoscopy service.  Dr McLaughlin is taking part in the 2021 UK cancer alliance study which will help evaluate whether this procedure should be performed across the NHS. He is happy to accept referrals for patients living outside Bournemouth and currently provides the NHS service for Salisbury patients.

Information about small bowel video capsule endoscopy 

Video capsule endoscopy or the “pill cam” is a relatively new technique which was introduced into clinical practice in 2000 and has revolutionised small bowel imaging. The test involves swallowing a single use capsule containing a battery and a video camera which transmits pictures to a small video recorder worn on a belt. Video capsule endoscopy is the most sensitive test for identifying abnormalities of the small bowel. Its advantages are that unlike X-ray and CT tests it involves no ionising radiation, is non-invasive and it is able to identify subtle mucosal abnormalities that may be missed with these tests.

To see images obtained by Dr McLaughlin during this procedure click here

Indications for small bowel video capsule endoscopy

Assessment of small bowel disease activity in patients with known Crohn’s disease

  • Suspected small bowel Crohn’s disease
  • Unexplained iron deficiency anaemia
  • Continuing symptoms in patients with coeliac disease (non-responsive coeliac disease)
  • Suspected small bowel tumours
  • Surveillance in patients with Familial adenomatous polyposis and known duodenal polyps
  • Surveillance in patientswith Peutz Jegher’s syndrome
Indications for upper GI (UGI) Capsule endoscopy and colon capsule endoscopy
  • UGI is a non-invasive alternative to traditional gastroscopy (OGD).
  • Colon capsule is a non-invasive alternative to traditional colonoscopy


Known small bowel strictures (significant narrowings) are a contraindication to video capsule endoscopy. In such circumstances other investigations such as conventional small bowel imaging (X-ray tests) may be performed first to reduce this risk.


All forms of capsule endoscopy are very safe and painless tests. Unlike other endoscopy tests an instrument is not inserted into your bowel and sedating drugs are not needed. These are therefore the safest and most comfortable tests to investigate any part of the bowel. 

There is a small risk (about 1%) of ‘capsule retention` with the higher risk (of about 3%) in those patients with suspected or known Crohn’s disease. In the majority of patients where the capsule is retained (defined as the capsule remaining within the body for more than two weeks after the test) the patient will not develop any symptoms and the capsule will eventually be passed. A small proportion of patients will develop symptoms of intestinal obstruction and require admission to hospital for medical treatment.

Outline of the test

Video capsule endoscopy is a painless non-invasive outpatient procedure. The patient is required to follow a liquid diet regime (see instructions for patients undergoing video capsule endoscopy) before the test. For small bowel and colon procedures laxatives are required to cleanse the bowel in order that good views can be obtained.

Patients undergoing video-capsule endoscopy are usually asked to attend the hospital in the morning (8-9am is preferable). The data (video) recorder will be attached to your waist with a belt and small sticky plasters with electrodes will be applied to your abdomen. You will then be asked to swallow the video capsule with water. For those undergoing small bowel or colon capsule after a short period of observation (to ensure everything is working and you are OK) patients are discharged home. Patients undergoing UGI (upper GI capsule) are asked to turn through different positions on a couch to maximise views obtained. Patients can then perform most activities (bathing and showering must obviously be avoided). The equipment record a video of the gut which is later downloaded at the hospital and then watched and reported by Dr McLaughlin.


Private video capsule endoscopy Bournemouth, Dorset

To arrange a private video capsule endoscopy at the Nuffield hospital Bournemouth or Bournemouth Private Clinic please contact Dr McLaughlin’s private secretary;

01202 237993


Comments are closed.