What is endoscopy
Endoscopy is a medical procedure in which a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end is inserted into the body to examine the internal organs and structures. This can be done through the mouth, nose, rectum, or other openings in the body depending on the area being examined. Endoscopy is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer. In this post, we look at endoscopy procedures: types and what to expect.
Types of endoscopy
There are several different types of endoscopies, each of which is used to examine different areas of the body:
- Gastroscopy: examines the inside of the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
- Colonoscopy: examines the inside of the colon and rectum.
- Bronchoscopy: examines the inside of the bronchial tubes in the lungs.
- Laparoscopy: examines the inside of the abdominal cavity and pelvis.
- Cystoscopy: examines the inside of the bladder and urethra.
- Rhinoscopy: examines the inside of the nasal passages and sinuses.
- Otoscopy: examines the inside of the ear canal.
- Arthroscopy: examines the inside of joints such as the knee, shoulder, and elbow.
These are some of the common types, but there are many other specialized endoscopic procedures that are used to examine specific organs or areas of the body.
How is endoscopy carried out
Endoscopy is typically performed as an outpatient procedure and is usually done under sedation or general anaesthesia to make the patient comfortable and minimize discomfort. The specific steps of an endoscopic procedure may vary depending on the type of endoscopy being performed, but in general, the procedure will involve the following steps:
- The patient will be prepared for the procedure by cleaning the area where the endoscope will be inserted and receiving sedation or anaesthesia.
- The endoscope, which is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end, will be inserted into the body through the appropriate opening (such as the mouth, nose, rectum, or a small incision in the skin).
- The doctor or technician will use the light and camera to examine the inside of the body and look for any abnormalities or issues.
- If necessary, the doctor may use tools on the endoscope to take biopsies, remove polyps, or perform other treatments.
- After the procedure, the patient will be monitored until the effects of the sedation or anaesthesia have worn off.
- The patient will be provided with instructions for recovery and follow-up care.
The length of the procedure may vary depending on the type of endoscopy and the specific situation, but most endoscopic procedures take between 30 minutes to an hour.
Uses of endoscopy
Endoscopy is a widely used diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedure that is used for a variety of purposes, some of the common uses include:
- Diagnosis of gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, reflux, blockages, and cancer.
- Identifying and removing polyps or abnormal growths in the colon, rectum, or stomach.
- Diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer.
- Diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the urinary and reproductive systems.
- Diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the ear, nose, and throat.
- Diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the joints.
- Guiding procedures such as taking tissue samples (biopsy) or removing foreign bodies.
- Performing therapeutic interventions such as removal of gallstones or varicose veins.
Endoscopy is a safe and effective procedure that can save lives by detecting cancer early and also improves quality of life by identifying and treating other conditions.
Side effects of endoscopy
Endoscopy is a generally safe procedure, but like all medical procedures, it can have some side effects. The most common side effects of endoscopy include:
- Sore throat: Some patients may experience a sore throat after the procedure due to the insertion of the endoscope through the mouth.
- Nausea or vomiting: Some patients may experience nausea or vomiting due to the sedation or anaesthesia used during the procedure.
- Bloating or gas: Some patients may experience bloating or gas after the procedure due to the air introduced into the body during the procedure.
- Bruising or bleeding: In rare cases, patients may experience some bleeding or bruising at the site where the endoscope was inserted.
- Allergic reactions: In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to the sedation or anaesthesia used during the procedure.
- Perforation: In rare cases, the endoscope may cause a small tear in the wall of the organ being examined.
- Pancreatitis: In rare cases, patients may develop inflammation of the pancreas after the procedure.
Most side effects are mild and go away within a day or two. You should contact your doctor if you experience any severe side effects or if your symptoms don’t improve within a few days.
How to prepare for an endoscopy
The preparation for an endoscopy procedure will vary depending on the type of endoscopy that you are having, but in general, the following steps will be necessary:
- Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking and whether you should stop taking them before the procedure.
- Follow any specific instructions provided by your doctor regarding diet and medications in the days leading up to the procedure, such as fasting or taking a laxative.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure if you will be receiving sedation or anaesthesia.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and remove all jewelry, including body piercings.
- If you are having a colonoscopy, you will need to clean out your colon beforehand to ensure that the doctor can see clearly. This will involve taking a laxative or enema and drinking a special solution.
- Inform your doctor if you have any allergies, or if you have any bleeding problems, or if you are pregnant.
- Inform your doctor if you have had any previous surgeries or have any medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your symptoms and medical history.
By following these steps, you can help ensure that your endoscopy procedure goes as smoothly as possible and that your doctor is able to get the information, they need to make a diagnosis or provide treatment.
What to do after an endoscopy
After an endoscopy procedure, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery and follow-up care. Here are some general guidelines for what to do after an endoscopy:
- Rest for the remainder of the day after the procedure and avoid strenuous activities for the next 24 hours.
- Resume your normal diet and medications as directed by your doctor.
- If you experience any pain or discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your doctor.
- If you had sedation or anaesthesia, do not drive or operate heavy machinery for the next 24 hours.
- If you had a colonoscopy, you may experience some bloating or gas as the air introduced during the procedure is passed out of the body.
- If you had a biopsy taken during the procedure, you may have some mild bleeding, but it should stop soon.
- If you had a polyp removed, you may experience some cramping and bleeding, contact your doctor if the bleeding persists or is heavy.
- Contact your doctor if you experience any severe side effects such as fever, abdominal pain, or excessive bleeding.
- Follow up with your doctor as directed to review the results of the procedure and discuss any additional treatment or follow-up testing that may be needed.
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to contact them if you have any concerns or questions about your recovery.