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Endoscopy Patient Information | LivingCare Medical Services

Endoscopy

An Endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside your oesophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach), your stomach and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum).

It’s performed using a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera called a gastroscope or endoscope. The gastroscope is swallowed and passed down your oesophagus into your stomach and then into the duodenum.

A gastroscopy can help find out what is causing symptoms such as:

  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • repeated vomiting or vomiting blood
  • long-term abdominal (tummy) pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • weight loss
  • anaemia

It's also used to help diagnose certain gastrointestinal conditions such as:

  • coeliac disease
  • reflux oesophagitis (inflammation and damage to your oesophagus usually caused by stomach acid)
  • ulcers
  • Barrett's oesophagus
  • cancer of the oesophagus and stomach

A gastroscopy can be used to see if there are any growths or ulcers in your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum, and can be used to take a biopsy, remove any blockages and to stretch or widen a narrowed segment of your oesophagus.

Are there any alternatives?

Depending on your symptoms, it may be possible to diagnose your condition using different or additional tests, such as an X-ray called a barium swallow and meal, a CT scanMRI scan or ultrasound scan.

 

Your appointment at LivingCare

Let the endoscopy team know your appointment if you take insulin or blood thinning drugs as you will need special advice on how to prepare for the test. 

You should not eat or drink anything for six hours before your appointment. This is to make sure your stomach is empty so the endoscopist can have a clear view of your stomach. It will also make the procedure more comfortable for you.

For patients on warfarin, you will need to have an INR blood test 48 hours before your appointment. Please arrange this with your own GP and bring the results with you.

Your individual letter that has been posted to you will tell you which medication you must not take. Other usual tablets may be taken with a small sip of water. Before the procedure the health team will carry out a number of checks and you will be asked to sign a consent form. 

During the procedure

An upper GI endoscopy usually takes 5-10 minutes. Most people have the test with a local anaesthetic throat spray to numb the throat and allow the scope to pass comfortably. If appropriate, the endoscopist may offer you a sedative to help you relax. If you decide to have a sedative this will be given through a needle in your arm or the back of your hand. 

The local anaesthetic is sprayed onto your throat and you will be asked to swallow it. It can taste unpleasant. You will be asked to lay on your left side and place a mouthpiece into your mouth. Your oxygen levels and pulse will be monitored by a small clip on your finger, and you may have some additional oxygen through small tubes in your nose.

The endoscopist will place the endoscope down your throat. A swallow can help ease the endoscope down your oesophagus into your stomach. The endoscopist will be able to look into your duodenum and take small pieces of tissue if required (biopsies) or photographs. The procedure is not painful but you may feel bloated after the test.

Answer

You can eat and drink as soon as you feel ready, but if you have had a local anaesthetic spray to numb your throat, you will need to wait until you can swallow normally before eating or drinking.

Explanation

Your doctor will usually offer to spray a local anaesthetic on to the back of your throat to numb your throat during the procedure. The effects of the local anaesthetic spray can take between 20 minutes and two hours to wear off.

As your mouth and throat will be numb, you will need to wait until you can swallow normally before you can eat and drink. Start with sips of cold water. If you can swallow the water easily without coughing and it feels cold, then you are ready to start eating and drinking. Don't have any hot drinks until the anaesthetic has worn off completely as you could burn yourself without realising.

Answer

Gagging, choking, or being unable to swallow are common and normal worries to have about having a gastroscopy. However, local anaesthetic and sedation can help you to relax and prevent this. You will be able to breathe normally throughout the procedure.

Explanation

During a gastroscopy, you will need to swallow the endoscope to allow it move down into your stomach. However, this won’t affect your breathing as it doesn’t block your airway.

Before the procedure your doctor will offer to spray a local anaesthetic on to the back of your throat, which will numb your throat and mouth area. This will help to prevent any gagging that may be caused by the endoscope as it passes down your throat. You will usually be offered a sedative as well, to help you relax.

Most people swallow the endoscope without any problems; it’s quite narrow – between 8 and 11mm in diameter. If you do start to panic, your doctor or nurse will be able to help you and may ask you to breathe deeply and slowly. Your doctor will not force the endoscope if you’re resisting it or panicking. Occasionally, your doctor may decide to stop the procedure.

Answer

An Endoscopy is usually done to investigate the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms and provide a diagnosis. However, it's sometimes used to give treatment.

Explanation

The purpose of an endoscopy is usually to find out what is causing your gastrointestinal symptoms, such as indigestion, repeated vomiting or vomiting blood.

Your doctor may be able to do this simply by looking at the lining of your gastrointestinal system, or he or she may take a small sample of tissue (biopsy) during the procedure. These will be sent to a laboratory for testing.

If your doctor finds any polyps (small growths of tissue), he or she will usually remove them during the procedure. This is done using special instruments passed inside the endoscopy.

If you have bleeding from damaged tissue, a gastroscopy may be used to allow your doctor to stop the bleeding. This is done by passing instruments through the endoscope to heat-seal (cauterise) the bleeding blood vessel or inject the tissue with a substance that stops it bleeding.

Some other procedures can be carried out through the endoscope, including stretching narrowed areas of your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum, and treating ulcers using injections or heat.