Gastrointestinal Endoscopy – What You Need to Know

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (UGIE)

This is a procedure that uses a thin flexible tube with a camera, called an endoscope to see inside the oesophagus, stomach and the first part of small bowel. UGIE may be recommended to investigate symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing, heartburn, upper abdominal pain, repeated vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss or gastrointestinal bleeding. It can also be used to take samples for diagnosis and to treat conditions like gastrointestinal bleeding, removal of foreign bodies or to relieve obstructions. You should be fasting for 6 hours prior to the test. Some of your medicines may have to be stopped. An anaesthetic spray will be given to numb your throat. Intravenous injection for sedation may or may not be necessary. The endoscope will then be inserted into the mouth and passed down the throat into the stomach. You may feel abdominal bloating since air is inflated to improve visualization. This test may take 10 – 20 min depending on your problem. This is generally a very safe procedure but there is a very rare chance of bleeding or tearing of the gastrointestinal wall during the test.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is used to visualize the large bowel and rectum. Your doctor might recommend this test for symptoms like constipation, loose motions, rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain or to screen for bowel cancer. You need to follow a special diet and a medicine preparation to clean your bowel prior to the test because a clean bowel is very important for a successful colonoscopy. You will get an injection via an intravenous cannula to reduce the pain and discomfort. A flexible endoscope containing a camera will be passed through the rectum and will be inflated with air to distend the bowel. The doctor may take tissue samples during the test. After the procedure, it may take about one hour for the sedative effect to wear off, during which you will not be able to drive. You may feel abdominal bloating for few hours and may note a small amount of blood with the first bowel opening. Contact the doctor if you are having persisting abdominal pain or persistent passage of blood with stools.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography – ERCP

ERCP uses a dye to highlight the bile ducts or pancreatic duct on X-ray images. It can be used to identify and treat problems in your bile ducts or pancreas. A special endoscope is passed down your throat and into your small intestine after giving a sedative injection. Dye is injected in to the ducts through a small hollow tube (catheter) passed through the endoscope. Your doctor may insert small plastic or metal tubes (stents) as a treatment or take tissue samples for investigations. It may take 30 – 60min depending on your problem. This is a usually safe procedure however there is a small chance of inflammation of the pancreas causing abdominal pain (pancreatitis), bleeding or rarely tearing of the bowel wall.

Endoscopic Ultrasound – EUS

This test uses a special endoscope with an ultrasound probe to produce detailed images of the lining and walls of the digestive tract, pancreas and liver, and lymph nodes. It also can be used to take samples for diagnosis and for certain treatments like drainage of pancreatic fluid collections. This procedure is also done under sedation.

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