Digestion is a significant proponent of health, as it is responsible for processing food into energy and nutrients. Digestive problems may result from an underlying disease or disorder paired with various symptoms. Gastroenterology specialists and doctors with expertise in digestive system care may recommend an endoscopy.
These procedures are typically minimally invasive, quick, and carry low health risks. They also provide a more accurate diagnosis compared to general screening methods.
How Doctors Perform Endoscopy Procedures
Endoscopies involve inserting flexible tubes into the body with tiny cameras installed at the end. Many endoscopy procedures can help with gastrointestinal problems. There are various endoscopy procedures for examining the linings of different body parts. Depending on symptoms and findings in the initial diagnosis, your doctor will determine what you need.
The digestive tract has three parts: the upper, the lower, and the small intestines. Each requires different endoscopic tools due to access requirements and limitations. The cameras used in endoscopies can show irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, abnormal growths, and cancer.
Upper GI Endoscopy
In this procedure, a doctor uses an endoscope to examine the lining of the upper GI tract. This part consists of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine).
After sedation through an IV, the doctor slowly passes an endoscope through the mouth and down the upper digestive tract. Real-time images appear on a monitor from the video camera installed in the scope for viewing. The doctor may also take samples of tissues and polyps for further investigation by passing an instrument through the endoscope.
Doctors may also perform other treatment procedures alongside an upper GI endoscopy, such as:
- Balloon catheters to help dilate strictures
- Removal of obstructions in the upper GI tract, such as accidentally swallowed objects
- Placing feeding tubes, draining tubes, or stents
- Treatment of conditions like ulcer bleeding and esophageal varices
Lower GI Endoscopy
Lower GI endoscopy, or colonoscopy, is where a doctor uses a colonoscope to examine the linings of the rectum and colon. Providers use it to screen for colon and rectal cancer.
After sedating the patient, the doctor will examine the rectum with a gloved finger. Then, they will pass a lubricated colonoscope through the anus, up the rectum, and into the colon.
They use real-time imaging to look for abnormalities. For a better view, the doctor may move the patient or inflate the intestine with air from the scope. They may also remove abnormal tissues for testing.
Capsule endoscopy is where a doctor uses a vitamin-sized capsule with a camera to examine the linings of the small intestine. The procedure is ideal when the lower and upper GI endoscopies do not conclusively diagnose symptoms.
For the procedure, your doctor will attach antenna sensors to your abdomen using adhesive patches. These sensors connect by wire to a recording device the size of a large calculator. Your doctor will strap it over your chest or around the waist.
After setting up the equipment, they will activate a vitamin-sized capsule, which they will ask you to swallow. Recordings from the capsule’s camera will be fed to the recording device, as it travels through the small intestine.
Your doctor will instruct you on what activities you can do and how to check the recording. Once the capsule passes through the body, you return the equipment, which will be reviewed by the doctor.
Endoscopy Guidelines For Patients
Endoscopy can help diagnose many digestive system problems, including ulcers, cancer, and other chronic disorders and diseases. Procedure duration varies from 10-minute to hour-long sessions, depending on findings.
Expect a doctor to recommend an endoscopy when you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Blood in stool or vomit (gastrointestinal bleeding)
- Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
- Persistent heartburn
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Abdominal pain
Your doctor will give you instructions, including how to prepare for the endoscopy procedure and what to expect afterward. You must follow them carefully, as they can affect the quality of your screening and decrease the risk of complications.
You should expect temporary diet restrictions, including fasting beforehand and medication adjustment. In addition, arrange for a ride home, as driving may not be possible after an endoscopy.
Endoscopy Procedure In California
Digestive problems can negatively affect your health and come with adverse symptoms. Endoscopy procedures provide an accurate way for your GI specialist to diagnose your condition and determine the necessary treatment. The tests are safe, and doctors will guide you throughout the process. Seek digestive care services sooner rather than later and remain worry-free with the knowledge endoscopy procedures can offer about your health.
For any concerns related to your digestive system, contact our providers at inSite Digestive Health Care. We provide comprehensive gastrointestinal care across California. Contact the best digestive health center near you or schedule an appointment with our online form.
We look forward to being your GI healthcare partner!