What is it?
An endoscopy is a gastroenterological procedure used to study the upper digestive system. A long, flexible tube with a tiny video camera in the tip is inserted into the mouth. Often, patients are instructed to swallow as the camera passes down the esophagus, but the throat is numbed prior to commencement of the procedure, so it is painless and does not interfere with breathing. The camera allows your gastroenterologist to view the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). It is often called an upper endoscopy, with a colonoscopy being the version of the procedure used in the lower gastrointestinal region.
When is it used?
An endoscopy is used to diagnose (and may be used to treat) conditions and diseases of the upper digestive system. Investigation of symptoms such as dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach pain, and nausea/vomiting are common reasons that an endoscopy may be prescribed. If these or other symptoms are being exhibited and a digestive disease is the suspected cause, an endoscopy can be used to diagnose or rule out this disease. Certain tools used during an endoscopy can also be used to treat these symptoms and diseases, such as the removal of polyps or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Is it safe?
Yes, an endoscopy is very safe. In rare circumstances, complications can occur such as internal bleeding (most often due to biopsy during the procedure), and sometimes infection which is treated with antibiotics. Your gastroenterologist will provide pre-procedural instructions. Following these instructions will help to limit the risk of complications.
How can it help me?
If you have experienced any symptoms such as persistent heartburn, chest or stomach pain, esophageal spasms, or other upper gastrointestinal discomfort, then an endoscopy may be able to help determine the cause of, and treatment for, these problems. Successful treatment of any gastrointestinal disease depends upon early diagnosis. Please give us a call if you have any questions - we are here to help!