Video capsule endoscopy as a tool for evaluation of obscure overt gastrointestinal bleeding in the intensive care unit

Endosc Int Open. 2018 Aug;6(8):E989-E993. doi: 10.1055/a-0590-3940. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


Background and study aims: Video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is a minimally invasive tool that helps visualize the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the right colon without the need for sedation or preparation. VCE is safe with very few contraindications. However, its role and safety profile in the intensive care unit (ICU) population have not been reported. The aim of this study is to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and feasibility of VCE use in ICU patients.

Patients and methods: We conducted a single-center retrospective observational study of patients who underwent VCE for evaluation of obscure overt gastrointestinal bleeding in the ICU between 2008 and 2016.

Results: This study included 48 patients who were admitted to the UMass Memorial Medical Center ICUs for gastrointestinal bleeding. VCE was successfully completed in 43/48 (90 %) patients. The entire length of small bowel could be evaluated in 75 % and the source of bleeding was identified in 44 % of the patients. The most commonly identified source of bleeding included small bowel angioectasias, duodenal erosions/ulcers, and small bowel polyps. No major complications could be attributed to the VCE. Only 1 capsule was retained after 2 wk; however, there was no incidence of bowel obstruction, perforation, or capsule aspiration.

Conclusions: This observational retrospective study demonstrates that VCE may be a safe, feasible, and effective diagnostic tool in evaluation of gastrointestinal bleeding in the ICU population with few complications. VCE may be a safe diagnostic prelude and be a guide to the correct therapeutic procedure if needed, in the context of patients who are seriously ill.