To examine and/or biopsy upper parts of the gastrointestinal tract doctors commonly use thin flexible telescope known as endoscope. This instrument possesses the camera, so that a gastroenterologist (a specialist for digestive system) can look into the esophagus, stomach or duodenum and see different problems that may have caused certain symptoms.
In most cases, endoscopy is performed in doctor’s office, but it can also be done in some outpatient surgery center or in the hospital environment, depending on the circumstances.
What Happens during Endoscopy?
Patients are usually asked to lie down on the table, either on the back or on the side (which most people prefer). The doctor monitors your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing during the procedure with some monitors attached to your body.
You will receive sedative through the vein in your arm to help you relax during the procedure. Also, the doctor will use local anesthetic spray to numb the back of your throat. Once these preparations are done, you will be asked to wear a plastic guard on the mouth and swallow the endoscope tube. There will be no pain while you swallow this instrument but it can be slightly unpleasant.
Once the endoscope is in your esophagus, doctor will turn it on and there will be a picture of your gastrointestinal tract on the monitor. Doctor closely examines the digestive tract, looking for suspicious areas or present problems. If there happen to be some polyps or suspicious looking tissues, doctor may need a sample. He/she will use the endoscope and pass surgical tools through this tube in order to perform biopsy (take a sample of the suspicous tissue), which will be examined in the laboratory.
Once the procedure is done, doctor will retract endoscope from your mouth and it is over. In general, endoscopy usually lasts for about 20 minutes, while the whole preparation and recovery may add up to 2 hours of your time.
What to Expect after Endoscopy?
Patients usually need to recover for a while after this procedure, sitting or lying down and this can last for an hour or so. During this period drowsiness from sedatives should wear off at least for a little bit, so that you can go home. Most people, however, are advised to get someone to escort them home, because sedative drugs may affect driving and operating machinery for 24 hours after the endoscopy.
Some patients may experience cramps, bloating and gas, as well as sore throat after this procedure, but these commonly improve after a while. If you happen to experience more serious problem, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. In rare cases, patients may have severe problems due to bleeding or perforation after endoscopy, while some older patients may experience heart attack or stroke (usually during the procedure).