An endoscopy is a medical procedure in which a doctor uses specialised instruments to examine a patient’s internal organs or blood vessels. The procedure begins when a surgeon inserts an endoscope, or a minuscule tube with a camera attached to it, into an opening in the body like the mouth or anus or into a small incision. Such a procedure allows a specialist to get a closer look at their patient’s organs and make more conclusive assessments about the latter’s health condition, all without having to make a large surgical incision. Most endoscopies are also done on an outpatient basis, thus not requiring the patient to spend too much time in the hospital.
All the same, getting an endoscopy may be a daunting prospect for someone who’s never had one before. If this is your first time getting one, you may be worried about experiencing pain, discomfort, or simply having something unfamiliar done to your body. It’s perfectly natural to be nervous about an endoscopy, but knowing more about what will happen during the procedure may help put you at ease. To that end, here’s what you should know about an endoscopy procedure and how to sufficiently prepare for one.
Your Endoscopy Will Depend on the Condition You’re Being Examined For
First, there are different types of endoscopic procedures, and the type you will go through will depend on what condition your doctor is assessing you for. For example, you may be prescribed an upper endoscopy for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease if you suffer from the condition and if your doctor is worried about you developing Barrett’s oesophagus, which increases your risk for cancer.
The area of entry for the endoscope also depends on which body part is being examined for a health condition. A colonoscopy, which aims to examine the colon, requires insertion through the anus and is typically supervised by either a gastroenterologist or a proctologist. A cystoscopy to get a closer look at the patient’s bladder, on the other hand, will be inserted through the urethra and performed by a urologist. Before your procedure actually happens, your doctor will clarify the particulars for you.
You’ll Have Lower Risks for Complications Compared to Open Surgery
Endoscopies can be nerve-wracking, but they are also associated with fewer risks than open surgery since they do not require large incisions or exposure of the organs. You typically do not have to worry about excessive bleeding or developing a serious infection, both of which can happen during surgery.
In rare cases, getting an endoscopy done can result in redness at the incision site, noticeable discomfort, or perforation. Don’t forget to ask your doctor about serious symptoms to watch out for, and consult them after the procedure if anything is out of the ordinary.
You’ll Need to Clear Your System Before Undergoing an Endoscopy
Another thing you should know about your endoscopy is that you will likely have to clear your system for a certain number of hours before the procedure is done. Your doctor will instruct you to fast from solid foods from between a few hours to a full 12 hours, depending on which procedure you’ll undergo. Ask them if you’re allowed to consume water, juice, or any of your regular medications, and inquire up to how many hours before the procedure you can continue to do so.
In addition, some endoscopies—like the ones that involve the gastrointestinal tract—require the patient to take laxatives or enemas to completely clear their systems. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter so that the results of your endoscopy are accurate.
You Might Feel Dizzy or Uncomfortable Immediately After the Procedure
Your doctor may administer a sedative or a local anaesthetic during the procedure, and it may take some time before either of these wear off. As a result, you may continue to feel either dizzy or uncomfortable up to a few hours after the endoscopy is done.
Knowing that, avoid overexerting yourself and be sure that you have company while leaving the hospital. Arrange for a friend or a family member to drive you back to your place, and spend the rest of the day resting at home. If your throat is somewhat sore from an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, refrain from eating anything but soft food in the meantime. Ultimately, if everything is as it should be, it won’t be long before you can resume your day-to-day activities.
It May Take Some Time to Acquire Your Full Endoscopy Results
As for the endoscopy findings, the speed at which you obtain your results will depend on the extent of the procedure. The results of a regular endoscopy can be available as soon as the procedure is done, or perhaps a few hours after.
However, patients who undergo biopsies in addition to their endoscopies may have to wait longer for their biopsy results. A doctor may need between a few days to a couple of weeks to conclude their findings from the patient’s sample tissue. If this is the case for you, wait patiently for your biopsy results to return from the lab.
Scary as it may initially seem, an endoscopy will go a long way in helping you achieve clarity over your health situation. This, in turn, will allow you and your doctor to arrive at the best course of action for your treatment.
Remember to follow your doctor’s instructions for preparing for the procedure, and report any noticeable complications. Above all, don’t hesitate to ask your medical care providers any outstanding questions you might have about your endoscopy and how the results will affect your health moving forward.