Introduction to Endoscopy
An endoscopy is a general term for a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an endoscope.
What is an Endoscopy?
An endoscopy is a general term for a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an endoscope – a thin flexible tube with a light source and camera at the end.
Endoscopes are inserted into the body from a natural opening such as the mouth or anus. Sometimes they can be inserted through a small surgical cut made in the skin in a procedure known as key hole surgery.
Some of the most commonly used types of endoscopes include: Colonoscopes (used to examine your large intestine (colon)), Gastroscopes (used to examine your oesophagus and stomach), Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (used to check for gallstones), and Broncoscopes (used to examine your lungs and airways). Other types of endoscope include: Arthroscopes (used to examine the joints), Hysteroscopes (used to examine the womb (uterus) in woman), and Cytoscopes (used to examine the bladder).
How is the an Endoscopy performed?
The procedure is normally carried out with a person conscious. It is not painful but can feel uncomfortable and so you are often given a sedative to help calm them. The sedative will make you sleepy but not put you to sleep. The procedure usually takes an hour and is often done as an outpatient clinic so you can go home after the procedure. If you have sedation you need to stay in a recovery area until it has worn off and avoid driving a car, operating heavy machinery, drinking alcohol, taking sleeping tablets, going to work or making important decisions for 24 hours after your procedure.
Endoscopy is a relatively safe procedure with few risks. However, possible complication can include infection of the part of body being examined, perforation of an organ or bleeding. There are also some low risks with sedation of difficulty breathing or heart problems. You are monitored throughout the procedure and the sedation can be reversed if there is a problem though. If you have pain, redness or swelling in the area where the endoscope was inserted or dark stool, shortness of breath, vomiting to severe abdominal or chest pain you should contact your GP.
How to prepare for an Endoscopy?
Depending on the type of endoscopy you may have to alter your diet or take certain medications beforehand but these can be found under information about the specific procedures.
What happens after an Endoscopy?
After the procedure you will be taken to the recovery area. If you have had sedation you will be given time to rest and let the sedative wear off. Someone should escort you home and stay with you for 24 hours, your procedure may be cancelled and rearranged for another time when someone can stay with you. In the first 24 hours after your exam you cannot drive or ride a bicycle or car, operate heavy machinery, drink alcohol, take sleeping tablets, go to work or make important decisions due to the effects of the sedation. If you did not have sedation, you should be able to go home straight away.