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Endoscopy: Types, Preparation, Risks & Side Effects

An endoscopy is a medical procedure in which specialised instruments will be inserted into your body through your mouth, so as to examine your internal organs. Endoscopy allows the surgeon to understand the occurrence of any diseases or complications. The procedure helps in analysing the problem without making any large incisions in your body [1] .

The surgeon will insert the endoscope through an opening in your body, such as the mouth or a small cut made for carrying out the procedure [2] . Endoscopy helps your doctor to understand the root cause of any ailments, help remove a tissue sample for biopsy and is also beneficial during surgical procedures as it allows the surgeon to view inside of your body.

Some of the latest technologies in endoscopy are capsule endoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, chromoendoscopy, and narrow band imaging [3] .

Endoscopy is done in the event of symptoms showing the incidence of conditions such as a stomach ulcer, gallstones, tumours, chronic constipation, blockage of the oesophagus, hiatal hernia, blood in your urine, vaginal bleeding, bleeding in the digestive tract, pancreatitis and other digestive tract related issues [4] .

Before the procedure, your doctor will give you a specific set of guidelines to be followed so that you will be able to undergo the endoscopy without any difficulties and complications. There are certain things you need to know about the procedure.

Types Of Endoscopy

Endoscopy is of different categories, based on the part of the body where the procedure is required [3] .

Colonoscopy - A gastroenterologist or a proctologist performs the surgery, and the colon will be the area examined. The endoscope is inserted through the anus.

Anthroscopy - This procedure is conducted by an orthopedic surgeon, and the joints will be the area of examination. The scope will be inserted through a small incision made near the joint examined.

Enteroscopy - A gastroenterologist will perform the procedure, and the small intestine is the area to be examined. The scope will be inserted through the mouth or the anus.

Bronchoscopy - A pulmonologist or a thoracic surgeon will perform the procedure and the scope will be inserted through the nose or the mouth. The procedure will examine the lungs.

Cystoscopy - A urologist will perform the procedure where the scope will be inserted through the urethra. Area to be examined is the bladder.

Hysteroscopy - Gynaecologists or gynaecological surgeons will perform the surgery, and the area to be examined is inside of the uterus. The scope will be inserted through the vagina.

Laryngoscopy - An ENT or an otolaryngologist will perform the procedure where the larynx will be examined. The scope will inserted through the nostril or the mouth.

How To Prepare For An Endoscopy?

Readying yourself before undergoing the procedure is a critical and necessary step.

1. Inform the doctor

That is, before undergoing the procedure you need to tell the doctor about your medical conditions if any. The doctor needs to be informed if you are pregnant, also the doctor must be detailed on your health conditions such as cancer or any cardiovascular conditions. You should notify the doctor if have any allergies or if you are following any medications [5] .

When you update the doctor on your health conditions and allergies, he or she will be able to prepare the procedure accordingly. So that you will not undergo any complications during and after the procedure. It is critical to inform the doctor about the medications you are taking as it can have adverse interactions with the procedure.

Medicines such as anti-inflammatory medications, warfarin, heparin, aspirin or any blood thinners can meddle with the sedative given during the procedure. If you are taking medicines for diabetes, it is important to inform the doctor so that a plan can be developed so as not to affect your blood sugar levels negatively. Before making any changes in your dosage, it is extremely critical that you infer with the doctor.

2. Be aware of the risks

While undergoing any medical procedure, it is crucial to educate about the possible risks involved in the process. However, it does not imply that the procedure has to have complications. In rare cases, there are possibilities of risks [6] , [7] .

If you eat or drink before the procedure, it can lead to aspiration. That is, the food in your system will get into your lungs and cause difficulty.

If you have any allergies, there are chances that it can cause the development of adverse effects due to the employment of sedatives during the procedure.

In the event of a biopsy, or if the polyps are removed, there are chances that bleeding can occur. The bleeding is usually minor.

In highly unlikely situations, a tearing can develop in the area where the endoscopy is being done [8] .

3. Do not drink or eat

Most medical procedures require you to be on empty stomach and the same is applicable for an endoscopy. It is important that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight, on the night before the endoscopy. Do not chew on mints or gum either [9] . You may have clear liquids such as water, coffee without cream, apple juice, clear soda or broth, up to six hours before the commencement of the procedure. Also keep in mind to avoid liquids with orange or red colour, as it can be confused with blood during the procedure [10] .

4. Dress comfortably

Being comfortable during the procedure is important. Make sure that you wear clothes that have a comfortable fit, in which you will be able to breathe and move easily [9] . Do not wear any jewellery, and you will be asked to remove your glasses (if you are wearing any) and dentures (if you have any).

5. Fill out the paper works

Before undergoing the endoscopy procedure, make sure that you fill out the consent form and other paper works related to the surgery. Remind yourself the night before to bring the forms to the hospital, by placing them in your bag [11] . This will help in avoiding any last minute mishaps.

6. Arrange for a ride

After the endoscopy procedure, you will be drowsy due to the sedatives given to make you feel relaxed during the procedure. Do not drive or take public transport such as bus or trains to get back home. Arrange a ride home ahead of the procedure, that is, get your family or friends to pick you up from the hospital and help drop you home [6] , [11] .

What To Expect During An Endoscopy?

Undergoing any medical procedure can be arduous and distressing. The uncertainty posed by the procedure can drive the person to the extreme levels of anxiety. The entry of a foreign object into your organs can cause anyone to worry, therefore it is necessary to educate yourself with the steps involved in the procedure [12] .

Read on to know what happens during an endoscopy, so that you can be prepared before the procedure.

The doctor will begin the procedure by giving you a sedative to make you feel at ease. The medicine will relax your nerves and muscles. A numbing solution will be sprayed on your throat and then the sedative can be given through an IV needle in your arm. The medicines commonly used are midazolam for sedation and fentanyl for pain. The sedatives may cause you to drift off to sleep as well [13] .

A liquid medicine to avoid gagging while the endoscope enters your body will also be given to you. You will be asked to lie on your side on the exam table. Then, the doctor will pass the endoscope carefully down your oesophagus and into your stomach [14] . The minute camera placed at the end of the endoscope will send video images to the monitor.

Placed near to the exam table you are in, the monitors will be attached to your body. These are used to observe your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure during the endoscopy. This will help the doctor in carrying out a close examination.

During the procedure, air will be pumped into your oesophagus, so as to inflate your digestive tract. This will help in free movement of the endoscope through the tract, without irritating the surrounding area (tissues), and also helps in seeing the insides clearly [15] .

Surgical tools will be used by the doctor during the endoscopy procedure. The tools will be used to collect small samples of tissue, cells, or fluids. There is nothing to worry as you will not even feel a pinch while the doctor collects the samples [16] .

The endoscope will not cause any difficulty or interfere with your breathing. Although many experience discomfort during the procedure, keep in mind that it is very minor [17] . Most likely you will fall asleep once the procedure starts, so you will not be aware of the endoscope in your body.

The procedure usually takes an approximate of 10 to 15 minutes, and in some cases (colonoscopy) it can take up to 15 to 30 minutes [15] .

What Happens After An Endoscopy

Now that you are aware of what happens during the procedure, read to know what happens once the endoscope is carefully removed from your body [18] .

Once the procedure is over, you will be taken to the recovery area where you will be asked to take rest and relax your body. It may take you 30 to 40 minutes to recover from the effect of the sedative.

You will be monitored for 30 minutes or till the medication effects [19] are worn off.

It is natural to experience side effects such as gas, bloating, cramping and a sore throat. A sore throat may remain for a period of two days, which is completely normal. You may take saline gargles to get relief from the irritation in your throat.

Once the effect is worn off, almost entirely (1 to 2 hours), the doctor will let you leave the hospital. Make sure you have someone to help you get home because your reflexes and judgement can be impaired for the whole day [20] .

You can return to your usual diet once the doctor informs you that you have completely recovered from the procedure, which will take around only 2 hours.

The results will of the endoscopy will be explained to you by the doctor, which may take time as the examination of the biopsy takes time (72 to 96 hours) [21] .

Side Effects Of Endoscopy

Complications are rare in the case of an endoscopy procedure. However, if you experience anything out of the normal such as the following side effects [22] , go to a hospital immediately.

  • Chest pain
  • Redness and swelling in the area
  • Damage to organs
  • Fever
  • Constant pain in the area of endoscopy
  • Dark coloured or bloody stools
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Vomiting

Even if you have any minor doubts after the procedure, do not hesitate to contact the doctor and clarify it.

View Article References
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