What is an endoscopy?
An endoscopy lets the doctor look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain, or chest pain.
What happens during an endoscopy?
For the procedure you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope. Right before the procedure the doctor will spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging. You may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax during the exam.
The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so the doctor can examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach, which expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the doctor to examine the stomach.
The doctor can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, through the endoscope that don't show up well on x-rays. The doctor can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests.
Possible complications of an endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining. However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the procedure.
An endoscopy takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for one to two hours until the medication wears off.
How do you prepare for an endoscopy?
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything for at least six hours beforehand. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home - you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your doctor may give you other special instructions.
What results will I have if I am suffering from IBS?
For most IBS sufferers the endoscopy will not show up any abnormalities if you are suffering from IBS alone.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although some people find these tests uncomfortable and occasionally painful, they are vital diagnostic tools. I would always recommend having any and all of these tests if they are recommended by your doctor. You should also make sure you follow your doctor's preparation instructions carefully.
The tale of...Kara
An endoscopy is not a bad test at all. The bad part was waiting for the procedure to happen. Excellent doctor, who found a polyp in the stomach, and irritation in the area of small bowel. Biopsy taken. Two weeks ago and no info yet. I still have discomfort under the right rib cage and terrible premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) along with bloating. IBS and what else? Don't know yet.