Endoscopy Procedure

What is an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure used to examine the upper digestive system including the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine, also known as the duodenum.

Why is an endoscopy performed?

An endoscopy may be performed for several reasons. First, it may be used to determine the cause of digestive symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or bleeding. Second, it may be used to diagnose a disease or condition; the doctor will take a biopsy to test for digestive system abnormalities. And lastly, an endoscopy may be used to treat digestive system problems, by using tools to treat the issues.

How is an endoscopy performed?

Your physician will inform you how to properly prepare for your endoscopy. Before the procedure, a sedative may be given for relaxation, and an anesthetic to numb the throat. A long, flexible tube known as an endoscope is inserted into the mouth, and passed down the throat, with the help of swallowing. The endoscope may cause pressure, but not pain, and does not interfere with breathing. Slight air pressure may be used to inflate the digestive tract and help the endoscope move more easily. Tools will be passed through the endoscope to collect a tissue sample or perform other tasks. The procedure takes five to twenty minutes.

What is done with the sample from an endoscopy?

The tissue sample taken during the procedure is sent to the lab for analysis. It is often put in a fixative solution, which allows it to remain in its natural condition. The tissue is finely sliced, put on to glass slides, stained, and examined by a pathologist using a microscope. The results of examination may confirm or rule out a diagnosis, determine the stage of a disease, or show if treatment is working.

Are there any risks of an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a relatively safe procedure, but some complications may occur. Bleeding from tissue removal, infection, or tearing of the gastrointestinal tract. The risk of complication is low, discuss any risks with your physician prior to the procedure.