Endoscopy refers to a special technique for looking inside a part of the body. Visualization of parts of the Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Tract is performed using highly sophisticated equipment (endoscope).
Endoscopy is a procedure performed by a well-trained Specialist / Endoscopist who uses the endoscope to diagnose and, in some cases, treat problems.
The procedure is performed either awake or under sedation, and this will be discussed during the consult prior to the procedure.
The endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end which is guided safely to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper GI tract.
The high-quality picture from the endoscope is shown on a TV monitor. In many cases, upper GI endoscopy is a more precise examination than X-ray studies. Tiny instruments can be passed through an opening in the endoscope to obtain tissue samples, coagulate (stop) bleeding sites, dilate or stretch a narrowed area, or perform other treatments.
Indications for Endoscopy
- Symptoms >2 per week
- Dyspeptic symptoms
- Epigastric Pain
- Reflux symptoms
- Gastro-intestinal bleeding
- Vomiting blood
- Per rectal bleeding
- Malena stool (black tar-like stool)
- Weight loss
- Age >50yrs
- Abdominal mass
- Family history of GI cancer
- Personal history of GI cancer
Preparing For An Endoscopy
Before the Procedure
- Regardless of why an endoscopy has been recommended for you, there are important steps you can take to prepare for and participate in the procedure.
- Talk to Your Doctor. First, be sure to give a complete list of all the medicines you are taking — including any over-the-counter medications and natural supplements — and any allergies to drugs or other substances.
- Your medical team will also want to know if you have heart, lung or other medical conditions that may need special attention before, during or after an endoscopy.
- It is important they know if you are taking diabetic medications or anticoagulants (sometimes called blood thinners) or have bleeding or clotting problems.
Prepare for the Procedure
- You will be given instructions in advance that will outline what you should and should not do in preparation for the endoscopy; be sure to read and follow these instructions.
- One very important step in preparing for upper GI endoscopy is that you should not eat or drink within eight to 10 hours of your procedure. Food in the stomach will block the view through the endoscope and it could cause vomiting.
- For the Colonoscopy, you will be required to take a bowel prep from 24hrs prior to procedure, and be on a modified diet. Your clinician will counsel you wrt this.
- Upper GI endoscopy can be done in a hospital, an ambulatory surgery centre or an outpatient office. You will be asked to sign a form, which verifies that you consent to having the procedure and that you understand what is involved. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for more information.
During the Procedure
- During the procedure, everything will be done to help you be as comfortable as possible. Your blood pressure, pulse and blood oxygen level will be carefully monitored. Your gastroenterologist may give you a sedative to help make you relaxed and drowsy, but you will remain awake enough to cooperate.
- If sedation is used, you will be observed for 1-2hrs prior to discharge. You will require someone to transport you home following the procedure.
- You may also have your throat sprayed or be asked to gargle with a local anaesthetic to help keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed through. A supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep your mouth open during the endoscopy. Once you are fully prepared, your gastroenterologist will gently manuovre the endoscope into position.
- As the endoscope is slowly and carefully inserted, air is introduced through it to help your gastroenterologist see better. During the procedure, you should feel little to no pain and it will not interfere with your breathing.
- Your gastroenterologist will use the endoscope to look closely for any problems that may require evaluation, diagnosis or treatment.
- In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample of tissue, called a biopsy, for later examination under the microscope. This, too, is a painless procedure. In other cases, the endoscope can be used to treat a problem such as active bleeding from an ulcer.
- Years of experience have proved that upper GI endoscopy is a safe procedure. Complications rarely occur. These include perforation, puncture of the intestinal wall that could require surgical repair, and bleeding, which could require transfusion. Again, these complications are unlikely; be sure to discuss any specific concerns you may have with your doctor.
After the Procedure
- When your endoscopy is completed you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. You will be informed about the results of the procedure and be provided any additional information you need to know.
- You will be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal activity.
- Occasionally, minor problems may persist, such as mild sore throat, bloating or cramping; these should disappear in 24 hours or less.
- By the time you are ready to go home, you’ll feel more alert. Nevertheless, you should plan on resting for the remainder of the day. This means not driving, so you will need to have a family member or friend take you home.
- In a few days, you will hear from your gastroenterologist with additional information, such as results of the biopsy, or you may have questions you want to ask the doctor directly.