SmartPill; A Diagnostic Tool to Assess GI Function

By Dr. Bulent Ender

Symptoms of post-prandial fullness, gas, satiety and chronic abdominal bloating, are quite common in the older age population.   Although a definitive diagnosis can be challenging in some circumstances, one of the more common causes of these digestive symptoms is gastrointestinal dysmotility.   Gastroperesis and chronic constipation are quite prevalent in the adult population over age 50.   A wireless motility capsule, SmartPill, is approved by the FDA for the diagnostic evaluation of Gastroperesis and chronic constipation.  The disposable capsule has a battery life of five days and measures pressure, pH and temperature in the hollow GI tract as the pill transverses the entire distance of the digestive tract (approx. 12 yards).


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The SmartPill Motility study is less invasive and more comfortable than many GI and radiological procedures to assess gastrointestinal motility.  The procedure is performed in an office setting and requires a brief 20 minute visit.  Once the patient is fitted with the external data receiver and ingests the wireless capsule, the study is initiated and the individual is able to resume their daily activity.  Upon return of the receiver (in five days) by the patient, the data is downloaded on to a workstation and an analysis of the tracing is performed by a physician.

The Smart pill study is provides quantitative assessment of gastric emptying time as well as colonic and whole gut transit time.  This is important since some patients have dysmotility involving multiple regions of their digestive tract, beyond gastroparesis and slow-transit constipation.  Furthermore the wireless motility capsule provides added information about frequency and amplitude of contractions which can be useful in the assessment of GI motility disorders.  There are multiple advantages to a SmartPill study compared to the traditional Gastric emptying test performed at Nuclear Medicine department.   SmartPill motility exam does not require a hospital visit or exposure to radiation and is less than half the cost of scintigraphy. 

  • Wake Gastroenterology is the only medical practice that provides Wireless SmartPill Motility monitoring system in Raleigh.    The procedure can be ordered by any physician and the interpretation can be performed by one our gastro-enterologists.  [2016]


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Rao SS, Camilleri M, Hasler WL, et al. Evaluation of gastrointestinal transit in clinical practice: position paper of the American and European Neurogastroenterology and Motility Societies. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2011; 23:8.

Richard J. Saad, MD, MS  and William L. Hasler, MD.  A Technical Review and Clinical Assessment of the Wireless Motility Capsule.  Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 Dec; 7(12): 795–804.

Wireless Motility Capsule Versus Other Diagnostic Technologies for Evaluating Gastroparesis and Constipation: A Comparative Effectiveness Review (2013).  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (USA).   On-line publication.

Bülent Ender, MD

Wake Internal
Wake Internal Medicine
Wake Women's Health
Rx Urgent Care
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Wake Research Associate

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