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What is the SmartPill™?

The SmartPill™ is an ingestible, single-use capsule that has the ability to record a variety of useful diagnostic information as it travels the length of your gastrointestinal tract, and can aid your doctor in diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, early fullness/bloating, constipation or recurrent small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Specifically, it collects data on the ‘transit time’ spent in each area of the GI tract (stomach, small intestine and colon), pH levels, temperature and pressure of the various muscles.

The SmartPill™ is administered in your doctor’s office just by swallowing the capsule, is non-invasive, does not expose you to any radiation and does not require sedation.

What is involved with this test?

You will arrive for your appointment having fasted for at least 8 hours prior, and will be given a small granola bar-type meal called the SmartBar® along with some water. (Note: the bar is not gluten-free.). Once your finish the bar, you will swallow the SmartPill™ capsule, which is about the size of a large multivitamin tablet. The whole procedure will take about 20 minutes, and you can resume your normal daily activities thereafter, but you cannot resume eating again until 6 hours have passed.

Once you swallow the SmartPill™, you’ll be given a wireless data receiver to keep on you for the next 3-5 days. You will wear the data receiver either on your belt or around your neck on a lanyard. The receiver must be within 2 feet of you at all times, and you should remove it only to bathe/shower and sleep. Throughout the period of the test, you will also be asked to record when you move your bowels.

When you pass the SmartPill™ during a bowel movement, you should flush it down the toilet; you do NOT need to retrieve the capsule! Once the test is complete, you will need to return the data receiver to your doctor’s office so they can download the recorded information and analyze it.

Preparing for the procedure

You will need to fast for at least 8 hours prior to the test, and your doctor may also ask you to stop taking certain medications in advance as well. After you consume a small snack bar before ingesting the capsule, you will need to fast for another 6 hours. Tiny sips of water—up to 1 cup total—are allowed during this 6 hour period. You cannot smoke or drink alcohol during either of the fasting periods.

If you have diabetes and are insulin-dependent, your doctor will provide specific guidelines on how to modify your insulin dosing.

What can I expect after the SmartPill™ test?

Once you have swallowed the SmartPill™, you can resume your normal activities so long as you keep the wireless data receiver on your person at all times other than while bathing/showering or sleeping. You can expect to pass the capsule in your stool within 3-5 days.

After you return the wireless receiver, it may take a week before your doctor has the data available for analysis.

By: New York Gastroenteroloy

Reviewed by: Eric Goldstein, MD


Last Reviewed: Mar 1st, 2022

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