hands holding abdomen

Digestive Health

Endoscopy

Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person's digestive tract. Using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it, your doctor can view pictures of your digestive tract on a color TV monitor. Endoscopy may also be used to treat a digestive tract problem. For example, the endoscope might not only detect active bleeding from an ulcer, but devices can be passed through the endoscope that can stop the bleeding. In the colon, polyps can be removed through the scope to prevent the development of colon cancer.

Reason for the Procedure

Doctors will often recommend endoscopy to evaluate:

  • Stomach pain
  • Ulcers, gastritis, or difficulty swallowing
  • Digestive tract bleeding
  • Changes in bowel habits (chronic constipation or diarrhea)
  • Polyps or growths in the colon

In addition, your doctor may use an endoscope to take a biopsy (removal of tissue) to look for the presence of disease.

Physicians that Provide This Procedure

Preparation Required Before Procedure

Gut Preparation: Examining the upper digestive tract (upper endoscopy) requires nothing more than fasting for 6-8 hours prior to the procedure. To examine the colon, it must be cleared of stool. Therefore, a laxative or group of laxatives is given on the day before the procedure.

Sedation: For most examinations with an endoscope, a sedative is provided. This increases the comfort of the individual undergoing the examination. The sedative, which is administered via an injection into the vein, produces relaxation and light sleep. There are usually few if any recollections of the procedure. Patients wake up within an hour, but the effects of the medicines are more prolonged, so it is not safe to drive until the next day. General anesthesia (puts you totally asleep for a period of time) is given in only very special circumstances (in young children, and when very complex procedures are planned).

You will need to a have a family member or friend present during your procedure.