How is it performed?
- Preparation: You will typically fast for 8-12 hours before the procedure to ensure an empty stomach. Depending on your medical history, you may also receive medications to relax your throat and ease any discomfort.
- Procedure: You will lie on your side on an examination table. The doctor will gently insert the endoscope through your mouth and down your throat. You may gag or feel discomfort during this step, but the procedure is usually very quick, lasting about 15-30 minutes.
- Examination: The doctor advances the endoscope and carefully examines the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, looking for abnormalities such as ulcers, inflammation, bleeding, or tumors. Images captured by the camera are displayed on a monitor for close-up viewing.
- Biopsy and treatment: If necessary, the doctor can pass small instruments through the endoscope to collect tissue samples (biopsy) for further analysis or perform minor procedures like cauterizing bleeding vessels or dilating narrowed areas.
- Recovery: After the procedure, you will rest briefly in the recovery room until the medications wear off. You may experience some throat soreness or bloating, which should subside within a few hours.
Why is it done?
GI endoscopy serves a dual purpose: diagnosis and treatment. It can be used to:
- Investigate symptoms like abdominal pain, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, or unexplained weight loss.
- Diagnose various digestive conditions such as ulcers, gastritis, GERD, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or early-stage esophageal cancer.
- Guide treatment procedures like biopsies, polyp removal, or stent placement.
- Monitor the progress of ongoing treatment for certain conditions.
Benefits of GI endoscopy:
- Minimally invasive: Compared to traditional surgery, endoscopy is less invasive, associated with shorter recovery times and reduced risk of complications.
- Accurate diagnosis: Direct visualization allows for precise diagnosis of various conditions, often eliminating the need for additional tests.
- Therapeutic options: In some cases, treatment can be performed simultaneously with the diagnosis, saving time and additional procedures.
Risks and side effects:
- Minor discomfort or gagging during the procedure.
- Throat soreness or bloating after the procedure.
- Bleeding or infection in rare cases.
Preparing for your GI endoscopy:
- Follow your doctor's instructions on fasting and medication.
- Inform your doctor about any allergies or medications you are taking.
- Arrange for transportation home after the procedure as you will be sedated.
In conclusion, GI endoscopy is a valuable tool for diagnosing and treating a wide range of digestive disorders. It's a safe and relatively painless procedure with minimal downtime and significant benefits for your digestive health.