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This handout will tell you about your capsule test. It will tell you what to do before, during and after the test. 

About this Test

For this test you swallow a patency capsule that looks like a pill and will dissolve. If the capsule leaves your body before it dissolves, your stomach and intestines are open (patent) enough for an object the size of a capsule to pass through. The capsule’s parts that dissolve surround a tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. It can be seen by x-ray. You come back the next day or up to 30 hours after you swallowed the capsule for an x-ray. It tells us the capsule has passed through your small intestine. 

Medicines 

Your doctor may ask you to stop these medicines for your test:

  • Calcium channel blockers 

  • Medicines that affect gastric emptying

Before starting or stopping any medicine, please talk with your doctor who prescribes your medicine. 

Day Before Testing 

After lunch, start a clear liquid diet. 

  • Water 

  • Broth 

  • Soda

  • Sports drinks

  • Clear juice without pulp 

  • Jell-O® without fruit 

  • Coffee and tea without milk or creamer 

Do not eat or drink after 10:00 pm. You may have sips of water with your medicine, if needed. You may take medicines up to 2 hours before your test. 

Day of Test 

Your test will last about 30 minutes. You will swallow the capsule with a glass of water. 

Do not eat or drink for 2 hours after you swallow the capsule.

  • 2 hours after you swallow the capsule you may drink liquids. 

  • 4 hours after you swallow the capsule you may have a light lunch. This may be a small sandwich or a little soup and 8 to 12 ounces of any fluids. You may also take medicine at this time. 

  • 8 hours after you swallow the capsule you may go back to your normal diet. 

Day After the Test

You will be scheduled the day after the test for an x-ray to confirm the capsule has passed.

Report any new belly pain, nausea, or vomiting to your doctor if the capsule has not passed. You may need an x-ray exam.

You cannot have an MRI if the capsule is inside you. If you are unsure if the capsule has passed, an x-ray will be needed before any MRI testing. 

Follow Up

Your doctor will review the test results. Expect to have more capsule testing if your stomach and intestines are patent. You will be given instructions about testing at the time of scheduling. 

Who to Call

UW Health Digestive Health Center 

750 University Row 

Madison, WI 

(608) 890-5000 

(855) 342-9900 

University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics 

GI Procedure Clinic 

600 Highland Avenue 

Madison, WI 

(608) 263-8097 

(800) 323-8942

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.