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Open Access Open Badges Case report

Asymptomatic bronchial aspiration and prolonged retention of a capsule endoscope: a case report

Alessandro Pezzoli*, Nadia Fusetti, Alessandra Carella and Sergio Gullini

Author Affiliations

Department of Gastroenterology and GI Endoscopy, University Hospital, Ferrara, Italy

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:341  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-341

Published: 2 August 2011



Capsule endoscopy has, over the last few years, become a first-line test to visualize the mucosa of the small intestine. This technique is generally considered safe and does not cause discomfort for patients. However, although patients may have difficulty in swallowing the capsule, bronchial aspiration of a capsule endoscope is a very rare complication. We report the case of an 82-year-old man who experienced prolonged bronchial aspiration of a capsule endoscope without relevant symptoms, followed by a spontaneous return of the capsule to the gastrointestinal tract.

Case presentation

An 82-year-old Caucasian man was referred to our unit from another local hospital to undergo capsule endoscopy. He swallowed the capsule without any apparent difficulties and did not show any overt symptoms. The following day, when we reviewed the capsule endoscopy images, we realized that the capsule was in the bronchial system and remained there for the duration of the study. An urgent X-ray of the chest confirmed the presence of the capsule in the left side of the bronchopulmonary tree. Two days later a repeat chest X-ray showed the capsule in the right bronchus. After two days the capsule was retrieved in the feces. Our patient remained asymptomatic during the entire admission period.


Aspiration of a capsule endoscope is a rare complication; to the best of our knowledge this is the first reported case in which a capsule endoscope remained for six days in the bronchial system of a patient without causing airway compromise or pneumonitis and spontaneously returned to the gastrointestinal tract.