Endoscopy may need to be done for many different reasons, sometimes for benign diseases and sometimes for cancer. Endoscopy is most often done as an elective procedure and usually on an outpatient or ambulatory basis. Emergency endoscopy may be needed for acute bleeding or to remove gallstones that are blocking the bile ducts. Endoscopy involves passing a lighted, flexible camera into the gastrointestinal tract to evaluate diseases that affect the lining of the esophagus, stomach, intestine and colon. This provides a means of diagnosing multiple benign and malignant conditions. It is also a means to perform some procedures, such as removal of polyps or masses, dilation or injection of narrowed obstructing areas (strictures), control of bleeding, or placement of feeding tubes.
Colonoscopy refers to endoscopy that passes through the rectum or a colostomy and evaluates the inner lining of the colon for disease. This is the most important screening tool for early diagnosis of colon and rectal cancers.
Upper endoscopy, or esophagogastroduodenescopy (EGD), refers to endoscopy through the mouth in order to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and first portion of the small intestine. This is important for evaluation of reflux and its complications, ulcer disease, and identification and diagnosis of cancers of the upper portion of the GI tract. A specialized type of upper endoscopy, called ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) is particularly useful in evaluating disease in the pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts.
Diagnosis and Therapy
Prior to endoscopy you will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to your surgery. You will be given specific instructions from your surgeon or anesthesiologist about which medications you should or should not take prior to your surgery. You should not take any blood thinning medications at least 5 days prior to your operation. This should be discussed with your surgeon at your pre-endscopy visit.
If you are having a colonoscopy, you will be prescribed a bowel prep in order to clean the stool from your colon in order to adequately see the lining of the colon (called the mucosa). There are several different types of bowel prep, depending on the exact procedure operation you are having and the preference of your surgeon. It is very important you take the full prep as directed.
For upper endoscopy, no prep is needed.
Your recovery should be brief. You should begin walking the night of endoscopy and continue to increase as you are able to decrease the risk of blood clots and improve breathing to prevent pneumonia.
You can resume most usual activities shortly after surgery. You should be able to return to work the day after endoscopy.
Because you are given sedation during endoscopy, you will need someone to bring you to the hospital and take you home after the procedure. You should not drive the day of your procedure because the effects of sedation may last for several hours.
Unless otherwise instructed, you should be able to resume your usual home medications
the night of or the morning following your endoscopy.
Click here for more detailed information on commonly prescribed medications.
Diet & Bowel Care
You may resume your usual diet as you feel able unless otherwise instructed.
If you experience significant shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or vomiting
after EGD (upper endoscopy), you should call your doctor.
If you experience abdominal pain, problems having a bowel movement AND have abdominal bloating, nausea or vomiting, and not passing gas, you should call your doctor.
You may notice blood in your stool during the first few bowel movements following colonoscopy. This may be caused by small amount of bleeding at any site where a polyp was removed or where a lesion was biopsied. This may look like bright red blood once in the toilet bowl or stools may look dark with small amount of blood coating the stool. If there is a large amount of blood, if the bleeding persists, or if you have any light-headedness or dizziness, you should call your doctor.
You may be given a date and time to see your surgeon following endoscopy, usually in 7 to 10 days to review the results of any tissue removed after endoscopy. If you are having trouble making an appointment, you should call your doctors’ office directly for assistance.
When To Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- You have a fever of 101 F or higher. This could be a sign of perforation (a hole in the area evaluated by endoscopy).
- You have nausea or vomiting or abdominal distention (bloating).
- You have sudden shortness of breath or significant chest pain after EGD (upper endoscopy). This could be a sign of an injury to the esophagus during the procedure.
- You pass a large amount of blood in your stool or have continued bleeding from your rectum, particularly if you also have dizziness or lightheadedness. A small amount of blood in the stool after colonoscopy can occur.
- You have abdominal pain after endoscopy.
You will be given a date and time to see your surgeon following endoscopy. If you are having trouble making an appointment, you should call your doctors’ office directly for assistance.
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