Background: Prospective trials support the role of capsule enteroscopy as an improvement in diagnosing mucosal lesions in the small bowel.
Aim: To determine the diagnostic yield and safety of capsule enteroscopy vs. alternative diagnostic modalities (such as push enteroscopy, small bowel follow-through or enteroclysis) in patients with small bowel diseases.
Methods: A search for prospective studies comparing capsule enteroscopy vs. other diagnostic tests in adults was performed between 1966 and 2005. Selected articles were included in a meta-analysis. Three analyses were run separately, all included studies and studies having occult gastrointestinal bleeding or Crohn's disease as main outcome.
Results: Seventeen studies (526 patients) met inclusion criteria. The rate difference (i.e. the absolute pooled difference in the rate of positive findings) between capsule enteroscopy and alternative modalities for small bowel disease was 41% (95% CI 35.6-45.9); 37% (95% CI 29.6-44.1) for occult gastrointestinal bleeding; and 45% (95% CI 30.9-58.0) for Crohn's disease. Failure to visualize the caecum occurred in 13%, significantly more often in occult bleeders (17%) than in patients with Crohn's disease (8%) (P < 0.006). Adverse events were recorded in 29 patients (6%). Capsule retention was more frequent in patients with Crohn's disease (3% vs. 1%, OR 4.37).
Conclusions: Capsule enteroscopy proved significantly superior to push enteroscopy and small bowel radiology in the diagnosis of ileal diseases. Capsule enteroscopy is safe, though prior radiology is still necessary to rule out small bowel strictures in patients with known or suspected Crohn's disease.