Medicine has come a long way. Depending on what symptoms you exhibit, a doctor may be able to use a narrow, bendy tube with a light and tiny camera on the end to investigate inside your body. This procedure is called an endoscopy and “today, endoscopies are used to diagnose various ailments and diseases in the body,” according to Lloyd Perino, MD, a gastroenterologist with Banner Health.
Types of Endoscopy
There are various types of endoscopy, depending on which area of your body you’re experiencing symptoms and where your doctor needs a closer look.
- Gastroscopy: A type of endoscopy used to investigate your throat, stomach and first part of the intestine for illnesses like gastritis or peptic ulcers
- Bronchoscopy: A bronchoscopy investigates your airways and lungs, and is used to diagnose lung conditions, like lung cancer
- Colonoscopy: A very effective screening for colon cancer, a colonoscopy can identify polyps in the lower digestive tract that could develop into cancer
- Sigmoidoscopy: Used to look inside your rectum and lower colon, a sigmoidoscopy can show irritated or swollen polyps, tissue, and even cancer
Prepping for Your Endoscopy
It’s normal to be nervous before your endoscopy but knowing what to expect can help you feel more comfortable during the procedure. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on what to do, and what not to do, during that period leading up to your procedure.
The “prep” period for your endoscopy, usually the 12 hours before your procedure, is critical to having a successful procedure. You will likely be advised:
- Not to eat or drink anything (even water) in the 12 hours leading up to your endoscopy
- To stop taking blood thinners, which can increase your risk of bleeding from biopsy or dilation, according to Dr. Perino
- To find someone to drive you to and from your procedure since you will be going under sedation
“Diabetics should take extra precaution during this period, to make sure their blood sugar levels stay healthy,” said Dr. Perino.
What Happens During an Endoscopy?
Once your doctor is ready to start, he or she will talk you through the steps of the endoscopy procedure, to make sure you’re comfortable with what will happen. “A nurse will place your IV, which will provide the sedation medicine to put you to sleep during the procedure,” said Dr. Perino. “If the endoscopy tube will enter through your mouth, a bite block - used to keep your mouth open during the procedure - will be placed in your mouth,” said Dr. Perino.
Once you’re sedated, the doctor will use a slender scope with a small camera on the end to enter your body and start investigating areas of concern, which could be your esophagus, stomach, first part of your small intestine, lungs, or colon, depending on your symptoms.
“When the endoscopy is complete you will be brought to a recovery area while you come out of sedation. The whole procedure is short, lasting anywhere from 5-10 minutes for an upper endoscopy and 15-20 minutes for a colon endoscopy,” said Dr. Perino. “While not painful, you may notice a slight sore throat after your sedation wears off if your endoscopy tube entered through your mouth.” Added Dr. Perino, “you can even eat immediately after the procedure.”
Finally, when the results of your endoscopy come in, usually 2-4 days after your procedure, your doctor will discuss the results, what may have been detected, and any next steps regarding future testing or treatment.
If you think an endoscopy may be needed to diagnose symptoms you’re having, you should consult a gastroenterologist. To find a Banner Health gastroenterology specialist near you and to schedule an appointment, visit BannerHealth.com.