What is an endoscopy?
An endoscopy is where the doctor uses an instrument called an endoscope to look at the oesophagus food pipe), stomach and the small bowel. This is common if bleeding, inflammation, ulceration or other abnormalities of the small bowel are suspected.
An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera and light attached which allows the doctor to see the pictures of the inside of your gut on a video screen. The scope bends, so that the doctor can move it around the curves of your gut. The scope also blows air and this expands the folds of tissues so that the doctor can see the linings better. As a result, you might feel some pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure.
This instrument can also be used to remove or burn polyps or to take tissue biopsies. Before the procedure, the doctor may spray your throat with a numbing agent that will help prevent gagging. Most patients have some sedation, but this can be one without sedation if you prefer.
You will then lie on your left side, and the doctor will pass the endoscope into your mouth and down to your small intestine. Your doctor will examine the lining again as the endoscope is taken out.
The endoscope does not cause problems with your breathing.
Sometimes the endoscope is inserted into the small bowel via the rectum. Bowel preparation is required for this.
If the doctor sees anything unusual or wants to look at the bowel with a microscope they may need to take a biopsy (small pieces of tissue) for testing. Polyps and tumors can sometimes be removed this may. You will not feel the biopsy.
You should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery. The procedure itself usually takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
This procedure may or may not require a sedation anesthetic.