The patient may be asked to take a laxative the day before swallowing the capsule in order to improve visualization of the small intestine and to stop taking certain medications. After fasting overnight, the patient simply swallows the capsule, dons the recording device, and returns to normal activity. In general, however, it is a good idea to avoid heavy lifting and extremely strenuous activities until the capsule has cleared the body. In addition, usually the doctor will ask the patient to not drink anything until two hours after swallowing the capsule, and to wait for four hours before consuming solid food. The patient cannot feel the capsule as it moves through the digestive tract. Usually the image recording is terminated after eight hours, but it may take several days before the capsule is expelled from the body. It can then be flushed down the toilet.
Since there are many hours of images on the recorder, it does take some time for the doctor to carefully review them all in order to provide an accurate evaluation of the state of the digestive tract. What happens next depends on what the indication for the test was and what is found on the images. For example, if a polyp or a bleeding source is found, a colonoscopy or even surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.