This information will help you prepare for your capsule endoscopy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Capsule endoscopy allows your doctor to see inside your small intestine. You will swallow a tiny camera that’s inside a capsule, about the size of a vitamin. The camera will take pictures of your small intestine, which will be sent to a data recorder that you’ll wear on a belt around your waist.

You will wear the belt for 8 hours. You may leave the hospital during that time, however you cannot have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The video capsule must pass through your digestive system before it is safe to have an MRI.

7 Days Before Your Procedure

A staff member will call you to confirm your appointment. He or she will ask you for a phone number where you can be reached 3 days before the exam.

3 Days Before Your Procedure

You will receive a telephone call from a nurse in the Endoscopy Suite, where the test will be performed. He or she will review these instructions with you and ask you questions about your medical history. The nurse will also review your medications and tell you which to take the morning of your procedure. Use the space below to write them down.

The Day Before Your Procedure

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your procedure. He or she will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your procedure. If you are scheduled for your procedure on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you do not receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call (212) 639-5014.

Drink only water during the 12 hours before the procedure.

Do not eat or drink anything else.

The Day of Your Procedure

  • Wear a loose-fitting, 2-piece outfit. Do not wear a one-piece outfit such as a dress, overalls, or jump suit. This would make it difficult to apply the sensors that help capture the data.
  • Plan to spend the entire day in New York City. You may leave the hospital after you swallow the capsule, however you must return 8 hours later. You may shop, catch a movie or film, or visit any attractions during that time.

Take your Medications as Instructed

Take your medications as instructed by the nurse. If you have any questions, call the Endoscopy Suite at (212) 639-5750.

  • If you take insulin, ask the doctor who prescribes it for you how much you should take the evening before and the morning of your procedure. This is because you will be eating a lighter diet than usual.
  • If you take iron supplements, do not take them for 24 hours before your procedure.
  • If you take sucralfate (Carafate®), do not take it for 24 hours before your procedure.

Where to Park

Parking at MSK is available in the garage on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. To reach the garage, enter East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue, on the right-hand (north) side of the street. There is a pedestrian tunnel that goes from the garage into the hospital. For questions about prices, call (212) 639-2338. There are also commercial garages nearby, on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues and on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Where to go

Your procedure will take place in the Endoscopy Suite at the main hospital, which is located at 1275 York Avenue. Take the M elevator to the 2nd floor.

What to expect

Your doctor will review with you why you’re having the test and ask you to sign a consent form. Your nurse will explain how the test works and attach the sensors to your abdominal area. The sensors are held in place with adhesive. He or she will attach a waist belt, which contains the recording equipment.

Your nurse will give you the video capsule to swallow at about 8:30 am. Before you leave the Endoscopy Suite your nurse will give you instructions with the information you’ll need for the day, including what you can eat and drink and when. It will also have the phone number for the Endoscopy Suite on it and what time you’ll need to return to the hospital. Below are general guidelines for the day of your procedure:

  • 2 hours after you swallow the capsule you may drink clear liquids.
  • 4 hours after you swallow the pill you may eat a light lunch.
  • At 4:00 pm you must return to the Endoscopy Suite.

After the Exam

  • Your doctor will review the information from the data recorder. He or she will contact you in about 1 week with the results.
    • The video capsule will pass with your bowel movement. You should not feel any pain or discomfort. The capsule can be flushed safely down the toilet.

Call Your Doctor or Nurse If You Have:

  • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Abdominal distention (bloating or swelling)
  • Any unexpected, unexplained problems

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your doctor’s office or Dr. Mark Schattner at (212) 639-3148.