BACKGROUND: The diagnostic yield of capsule endoscopy (CE) in the setting of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) without evidence of occult/overt bleeding has been questioned. Often, these patients have nongastrointestinal causes of iron deficiency but undergo CE to exclude a potential small bowel source.OBJECTIVE: To assess the diagnostic yield of CE, the characteristics predicting positive results, the presumed etiology of IDA in negative/normal CE and patient management after CE.METHODS: A retrospective review of 934 patients who underwent CE between December 2001 and February 2010 was conducted. All patients had undergone previous negative endoscopic examinations before CE. Patients with IDA but no evidence of overt/occult bleeding were separated into three categories based on CE findings: group A – positive; group B – negative/normal; and group C – incomplete/indeterminate.RESULTS: A total of 101 capsules in 97 patients were evaluated. Group A had 25 subjects with positive findings on CE, 18 of whom were managed supportively. Group B consisted of 69 subjects with negative/normal CE, 60 of whom were treated supportively. Group C consisted of three subjects with incomplete CE results.CONCLUSION: In patients with IDA without evidence of gastrointestinal bleeding, CE had a low diagnostic yield (25.7%), which increased to 45.5% after adjusting for low dietary iron intake and menorrhagia. However, CE did not alter management in most patients regardless of findings, and many of the lesions requiring intervention were within reach of standard endoscopes. No predictor of positive results was found. In this patient population, careful history taking and thorough endoscopy could improve CE utilization, although its value is still relatively limited.