The Pill that can see Within

Sounds like an impractical scenario? Well, it isn’t. The ever-developing domain of medical science has come up with a small pill which can see inside you. This invention of capsule endoscopy has heralded a revolution in the field of endoscopes. Traditionally endoscopies are done with visualising the interior of the oesophagus, stomach and proximal part of the intestine. Thus capsule endoscopies can help doctors see the more distal parts of the intestine which aren’t visible on traditional endoscopy.

The procedure of capsule endoscopy involves a vitamin sized pill which is fitted with a wireless camera. This pill is swallowed by the patient and as it travels down the gastrointestinal tracts it takes multiple pictures which are transferred to a recorder on a belt which is worn around the patient’s waist. These photos are converted into a video by the computer which aids the doctor in visualisation. A transmitted radio-frequency signal can be used to accurately estimate the location of the capsule and to track it in real-time inside the body and gastrointestinal tract.


The procedure takes around 8 to 10 hours to complete. Once the pill is swallowed the patient has to wait for two hours before consuming clear liquids and 4 to 5 hours before consuming a meal. The procedure is complete when the pill is passed out of the stool usually within 24 to 48 hours. Newer pills can be flushed in the toilet. Very rarely if the pill doesn’t come out after 2 weeks an X-ray would be needed.


  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • GI bleed
  • Varies
  • Polyps
  • Tumors

Side Effects :

Very rarely a pill is retained which can lead to obstruction. It is usually seen in patients of Crohn’s disease. This requires surgical intervention. A review showed that out of 22,840 cases, the capsule was retained 1.4% times.



Dr Madhura Mandlik


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