Endoscopy involves the use of a flexible tube to examine the upper intestinal tract including the oesophagus, stomach and proximal duodenum. The procedure is commonly undertaken if your doctor suspects that you have inflammation of the oesophagus (the pipe which connects the throat to the stomach), an ulcer, inflammation or other abnormality of the oesophagus, stomach or proximal duodenum.
How are you prepared?
You need to fast for six hours before the procedure (no food or drink). Whilst fasting, take all your regular medications with a sip of water. If you are a diabetic, the doctor will give you specific instructions.
If you have serious heart or chest problems, special precautions need to be taken to reduce any possible risks. You should therefore inform your doctor of any serious illness of this nature. The precautions taken will usually include providing oxygen during the procedure and/or monitoring the heart and oxygen levels during the procedure.
At the beginning of the procedure your throat will be sprayed with a local anaesthetic and you will be given a sedative by injection in a vein to make you more comfortable.
What do we do?
An endoscope is a flexible tube about 9mm in diameter. It allows full colour inspection of the oesophageal, stomach and proximal duodenum. It also allows biopsies to be taken from the small bowel and other areas.
Safety and risks
Gastrointestinal endoscopy is usually simple and safe. It is unlikely to cause problems for patients unless they have serious heart or chest problems.
Extremely rarely, individual patients may have a reaction to the sedation or damage to the oesophagus at the time of the examination.
Such complications are extremely rare; however, if you wish to have full details of all possible rare complications discussed before the procedure, you should inform your doctor.
The procedure will take about 15 minutes and you will be sleepy for about half an hour afterwards.
The doctor will only give you a brief outline of the results of your investigation on the day of the test. Further details will be given when you return to see the doctor, or when you see your referring general practitioner or specialist for follow up.
You should not operate machinery (including driving a car) or sign any legally binding documents, carry out any demanding tasks or drink alcohol for the remainder of the day. It is essential that you arrange for a responsible adult to pick you up after your procedure.
If you have any severe abdominal pain, bleeding from the back passage, fever, or other symptoms that cause you concern, you should contact your doctor or attend an emergency department.