Other Procedures

Several other tests are used to evaluate digestive tract problems, including upper and lower gastrointestinal x-rays. There are also specialized studies to evaluate swallowing difficulties, acid reflux, abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, etc.

Two diagnostic tests are conducted at our offices in Colchester. These are the lactose breath test and capsule endoscopy.

Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is used to examine the middle section of the gastrointestinal tract, an area that is difficult to reach with traditional endoscopy or colonoscopy procedures. The patient swallows a pill-sized video camera that contains its own light source. As the device passes through the gastrointestinal tract, images of the small intestine are relayed to a recording device worn on the body. The physician reviews pictures on the recording device at a later date. Capsule endoscopy is typically used to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease and detect ulcers, polyps and tumors of the small intestine.

During this procedure, a sensor device is taped to the patient’s abdomen and a small data recorder is worn around the waist for approximately eight hours. The pill-sized capsule endoscope is swallowed and passes naturally through the digestive tract without being noticed by the patient. At the end of the procedure, the patient returns to the clinic so the sensor device and data recorder may be removed.

Patients are usually asked to fast for approximately 12 hours before the procedure. Once the capsule has been swallowed, clear liquids are allowed after two hours and a light meal is allowed after four hours.

Medications and medical conditions are discussed prior to the procedure so any necessary adjustments may be made.

Lactose Breath Test

A lactose breath test is used to determine how well a patient is able to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. When lactose is not being correctly digested, the amount of hydrogen exhaled in the breath is measurably increased.

At the beginning of the test, the patient drinks a solution of pleasant-tasting liquid lactose. Breath samples are then collected every 15 to 20 minutes for about 3 hours. Increased hydrogen levels indicate improper digestion.

Patients should not smoke for 24 hours before a lactose breath test. No food or liquids, including water, should be ingested within 8 hours of the test.