An endoscopy is a procedure in which the upper digestive tract is examined by a gastroenterologist. To see inside the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, the doctor inserts a tube called an endoscope down the throat. This tube has a camera on the end and is very flexible to allow the doctor to navigate the twists and turns of the body.
Because this procedure is nonsurgical, it can be performed in a doctor's office. Patients often lay on their back or side to give the doctor better access and are then given a sedative medication so they can feel relaxed during the procedure. Patients may stay awake throughout the endoscopy but cannot talk while the endoscope is inserted.
Why Is an Endoscopy Performed?
An endoscopy can be performed for a number of reasons. Typically, it is used to investigate recurring stomach issue and symptoms, including frequent nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, trouble swallowing, changes in bowel habits, or gastrointestinal bleeding. It can also be used to help diagnose problems and to test for certain diseases. Endoscopes can collect tissue samples that can then be tested in a lab to see if a patient has cancerous growths.
Additionally, it can even be used to treat certain conditions, such as stomach bleeding, a narrow esophagus, or foreign object removal.
Patients who are receiving an endoscopy need to fast for a minimum of six to eight hours. This ensures the stomach is empty so it can be thoroughly examined by the doctor. Patients must also stop taking any blood-thinning medication to protect against potential surgical complications.
Typically, patients are not given full anesthesia during the procedure. However, they are not allowed to drive themselves home as the relaxation medication has a prolonged effect following the procedure.
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