What is an endoscopy and why would you need one?

Endoscopy is a simple medical procedure done to examine the intestinal tract of a person. An endoscopy uses simple tools – a flexible tube with a light and a camera attached to it. The procedure is non-surgical and takes less than 20 minutes. In case of stomach or intestinal related issues such as stomach pain, ulcers, digestive bleeding, and polyps, etc. an endoscopy may be performed by a trained physician.

What are the types of endoscopies?

Primarily, there are 3 different types of endoscopic procedures – Upper endoscopy is done in case the key focus area lies in the esophagus, stomach or the upper small intestine. The tube is passed down through the mouth to view these organs through the camera. A colonoscopy, on the other hand, is done in case the colon needs to be examined. In a colonoscopy, the examination tube is passed through the rectum to examine the intestine. Another type of endoscopy is the endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography which is used to examine pancreas and gallbladder.

Preparing for an endoscopy

As a patient, one does not need to do much but fast for 6-8 hours before the procedure. Additionally, laxatives may be given to the patient to get rid of any stool in the system. The physician requires certain endoscopy accessories to perform the procedure. A sedative is given to the patient to ease the pain and discomfort of the tube passing through. General anesthesia is given to younger patients and in case of a colonoscopy. Endoscopy is overall a safe procedure but in some cases, may lead to perforation or tearing of gut wall, infection and bleeding which are easily treatable. A trained specialist performing the procedure may reduce the chances of these problems.