When a doctor needs to see the inside of your body, but surgery would be too drastic and invasive, an endoscopy is performed. Endoscopies are extremely beneficial because they provide comprehensive images, are brief, and have minimal risks.
Endoscopies can be used to diagnose a health issue, or they can be used to remove polyps and tumors within the gastrointestinal system. The procedure is done by inserting a tube called an endoscope into your digestive tract.
What Is An Endoscope?
An endoscope is a long, slender tube with a camera and a bright light attached to one end. It is inserted into the mouth and passed through the body, capturing images of a particular organ or area. These images are sent to a color monitor, where doctors can analyze them in real-time.
Tools Used With An Endoscope
Tools can also be passed through a channel within the endoscope. Each one has a unique purpose:
- Biopsy Forceps – Biopsy forceps remove abnormal growths and collect tissue samples.
- Flexible Forceps – Flexible forceps resemble tongs and collect tissue specimens, utilizing a firm grip and the ability to maneuver around curves.
- Cytology Brushes – These instruments use a stiff brush to remove tissue samples.
- Suture Removal Forceps – As the name suggests, these tools remove stitches.
Why Would You Need An Endoscopy?
Your doctor may request an endoscopy to diagnose symptoms that could indicate a serious underlying disorder. These include:
- Abdominal pain that won’t go away.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Frequent indigestion or heartburn.
- Bloody stools.
- Recurring diarrhea or vomiting.
- Trouble swallowing.
They may also do an endoscopy to verify a diagnosis. Additionally, an endoscopy can be conducted to treat a condition, such as removing a polyp.
How To Prepare For An Endoscopy
Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to prepare for your endoscopy. Generally, you’ll have to:
- Fast. It’s important to have an empty stomach when you have an endoscopy, so you’ll need to stop eating solid foods up to 12 hours beforehand. Your doctor may approve of you drinking water up to two hours before the procedure.
- Stop Taking Specific Medications. If you take blood thinners, aspirin, arthritis medicines, blood pressure medications, diabetes medicines, ibuprofen, or naproxen, you may have to stop taking them before the endoscopy. This is because these medications can increase your susceptibility to bleeding during the procedure. Be sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you’re taking as well.
- Take a Laxative. If your colon is being examined, it must be completely free of fecal waste so that its structure is easy to see. This means you’ll have to take a laxative or an enema the day before the endoscopy.
- Arrange for Someone to Take You Home. You won’t be permitted to get behind the wheel if you are sedated for your procedure. It takes about 24 hours for the sedative to wear off completely, so be sure to have a responsible adult drive you home. This means it must be someone you know rather than a taxi driver or Uber driver. They should also be able to stay with you for at least two hours after you’re home. You may have to reschedule the endoscopy if you’re unable to find transportation.
What Happens During The Procedure?
If you’re having an upper endoscopy (an endoscopy that addresses your upper gastrointestinal tract, the esophagus, stomach, and first part of your small intestine), you’ll be asked to lie on your side. Monitors that keep track of your heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing are connected to your body.
Next, you’ll receive an intravenous sedative, which imparts a light sleep. This is helpful if you’re nervous or concerned about gagging during the procedure. If you’d rather not be sedated, your physician may have you gargle with a liquid numbing agent or spray your throat with a numbing liquid.
After this, the endoscope is inserted into your mouth and passed down your throat. It will not disrupt your breathing. Slight air pressure is used to dilate your gastrointestinal tract. This way, the endoscope can be maneuvered easily and can see a larger area. Your doctor will study the monitor screen to either identify disorders or guide special tools to remove abnormalities.
Endoscopies are outpatient procedures that typically last between 15 and 45 minutes.
What Happens After An Endoscopy?
For the first hour or so after the endoscopy, you’ll be under observation to ensure your safety while the sedative wears off. When you get home, your throat may be sore, and you may only be able to handle soft foods, such as:
- Broiled fish.
You may also experience gas, bloating, soreness, and cramping. These issues typically do not last long.
Types Of Endoscopies
There are many types of endoscopies, and all have different functions. Here are four of them:
- Capsule Endoscopy. During a capsule endoscopy, you swallow a small pill with a video camera inside. As the capsule travels through your gastrointestinal tract, it sends the images to a receiver worn on your belt. The process takes approximately eight hours, and the capsule is expelled when you go to the bathroom.
- Colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows a doctor to analyze your entire large intestine’s lining, referred to as the colon. During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light is inserted in the anus and moved through the colon. The camera relays images to a video monitor for evaluation.
- Sigmoidoscopy (Flexible Sigmoidoscopy). A sigmoidoscopy is used to analyze the lower part of your colon. A thin, flexible tube with an attached camera and light is inserted into the anus and worked through the colon’s lower section, sending images to a video monitor. If your doctor finds anything suspicious during a sigmoidoscopy, they may order a colonoscopy for a more thorough analysis and treatment.
- Chromoendoscopy. During a chromoendoscopy, the intestine’s lining is coated with a special dye that allows the doctor to view abnormalities better.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound. Endoscopic ultrasound merges two procedures: endoscopy and ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves). For this process, an ultrasonic probe is attached to the endoscope, and detailed pictures of your gastrointestinal tract are relayed to your doctor via a video monitor.
Contact us today! The team of professionals at GastroMD looks forward to working with you. We are one of the leading gastroenterology practices in the Tampa Bay area. We perform a host of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always a top priority!