Introduction: The identification and localization of lesions located in the small intestine that may provoke gastrointestinal bleeding is difficult.
Objective: To analyze the role of capsule endoscopy in patients with obscure digestive bleeding and to compare the results obtained with those of enteroscopy.
Patients and methods: Twenty-one patients with obscure digestive bleeding (acute hemorrhage in 11 patients and chronic anemia in 10) and normal total fibergastroscopy and fibrocolonoscopy were analyzed. All patients were instructed to receive the capsule and enteroscopy was performed after 1 week. The results obtained using both procedures were independently compared and without knowledge of the results of the other procedure.
Results: Visualization of findings potentially related to gastrointestinal bleeding was significantly greater (p < 0.05) using the capsule (14 of 21 patients [66%]) than with enteroscopy (4 of 21 patients [19%]). The most frequent lesions were angiodysplasias and jejunal ulcers. In 4 patients, the results obtained led to a change in therapeutic approach. One patient with jejunal stenosis and two with ileal lesions underwent surgery, which confirmed the diagnosis of Crohn's disease in the first patient and carcinoid tumor in the remaining two. Another patient with evidence of angiodysplasia and bleeding was effectively treated with Argon-beam during enteroscopy. The capsule was well tolerated in all patients. In the patient with jejunal stenosis, capsule extraction was required during surgery.
Conclusions: Capsule endoscopy allows adequate visualization of the entire small intestine and its diagnostic efficacy is greater than that of enteroscopy in patients with obscure digestive bleeding. Moreover, in our series, this procedure allowed modification of therapy in one out of every five patients.