Sean C. Lai, MD -  - Primary Care Physician

Sean C. Lai, MD

Primary Care Physician & Gastroenterologist located in Santa Monica, CA

Pill Capsule Endoscopy

Pill capsule endoscopy is the latest and most advanced type of internal imaging available, relying on a tiny camera inside an enclosed capsule to capture images of the small intestine. Dr. Lai uses the technique to help patients throughout the Santa Monica, CA, area diagnose and manage conditions affecting the small bowel, including IBD.

Pill Capsule Endoscopy Q & A

by Sean C. Lai, MD

What is capsule endoscopy?

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure that uses a small “video capsule” to take pictures of the inside of your upper gastrointestinal tract, including your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The capsule contains a tiny camera, a light, a battery and a transmitter. Once swallowed, it travels through the digestive system, taking a series of pictures as it moves forward. The pictures are transmitted to a small receiver pack worn by the patient during the procedure. Once the procedure is complete several hours later, the doctor can download the pictures from the receiver onto a computer for viewing. The disposable capsule will be passed normally through the digestive tract, eventually being expelled by the bowel and flushed away in the toilet.

How is capsule endoscopy used?

Because the small intestine cannot be reached via colonoscopy or traditional endoscopy, capsule endoscopy is most frequently used to diagnose suspected abnormalities of this area, including intestinal tumors or ulcers, Crohn's disease and angiodysplasias, knots of tiny blood vessels located just beneath the intestinal lining that can cause bleeding resulting in anemia.

What will I experience during the capsule endoscopy?

First, you'll need to fast for several hours prior to the procedure. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you take including aspirin and vitamins. In some cases, you may be asked to drink a special liquid that cleanses your bowel prior to the procedure. Before swallowing the capsule, Dr. Lai will apply a sensor to your abdomen using special medical adhesive, then you'll swallow the capsule normally. Once the procedure is over in about eight hours, you'll return to the office so Dr. Lai can remove the receiver and retrieve the images. During the eight-hour period, you'll be allowed to eat a light meal and drink clear liquids, but you'll need to avoid vigorous or strenuous activity.


Major Insurance Plans Accepted

Below is a short list of the insurance plans we accept. If you do not see your insurance on the list, feel free to call our office. We also offer very reasonable discounted packages for patients who do not have insurance coverage.

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross
  • Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • First Health (Coventry Health Care)
  • Great West Life
  • GWH-Cigna (formerly Great West Healthcare)
  • Health Net
  • Humana
  • Medicare
  • Oxford (UnitedHealthcare)
  • Tricare
  • United Food and Commercial Worker
  • UnitedHealthcare
Blue Cross
Blue Shield
First Health (Coventry Health Care)
Great West Life
GWH-Cigna (formerly Great West Healthcare)
Health Net
Oxford (UnitedHealthcare)
Lai, Sean C., MD 2001 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1286W Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: 310-453-0553
Fax: 310-943-2776
Office Hours