Preparing for an endoscopy
For any and every scope, it is important to take certain precautions or prepare ahead so that the procedure goes smoothly. The nature of the necessary scope will predetermine what may be required in terms of preparation. Your doctor will give you specific instructions to ensure your comfort, safety and best possible outcome of the procedure.
If you are having an endoscope inserted through the anus, your doctor may give you a laxative or enema to use the day before a procedure to assist with clearing out your system (rid the body of any stool or faeces).
Some general preparation tips include:
- A discussion of medical conditions or problems: If you have any known medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer or pregnancy, this will help your doctor to foresee any specific precautions they may need to take ahead of the procedure. You should discuss your entire medical history, including prior surgeries with your doctor as well.
- Medications and allergies: If you have any known sensitivities, intolerances or allergies to both prescription or over-the-counter medications (as well as supplements), you should mention this to your doctor ahead of the procedure. Certain medications can interfere with the sedative (or anaesthetic) you will be given to relax during the procedure and even the results (for example, some medications coat the bowel making it difficult to view during a Gastroscopy). Some medications which can cause interference include insulin and anti-inflammatory drugs. It is important not to stop or change your medication schedule until you have discussed it with your doctor. He or she will advise the best course of action once they’ve taken everything into account.
- A discussion about potential risks: Any procedure has risk of potential complications. Complications during a scope procedure can include aspiration (when food or liquids get into the lungs), an adverse reaction due to an allergy or the sedative used, minor bleeding (especially if a growth or polyp is removed or if a biopsy is performed) or tearing in the area being examined (this can be life-threatening and will require immediate medical attention).
- Arrange for safe transport: Any narcotic or sedative administered (usually via injection in a vein) to help you relax (and place you in a light sleep state) during the procedure will impair your ability to drive and make you feel drowsy. Normally, you will wake up within an hour of the procedure and will have little to no recollection of it at all. It will be strongly recommended that you pre-arrange for someone to pick you up following your procedure and safely drive you home.
- Fasting: Your doctor may request that you don’t eat or drink anything for a period of time before your procedure. This can range from as little as 6 to 8 hours, and up to 24 hours the night before. Fasting can include the chewing of gum and sucking of mints (not just meals and small snacks). Clear liquids (water, broth, sodas and apple juice) after midnight (the night before) and up to 6 hours ahead of an afternoon procedure is sometimes allowed. Your doctor may specify that you avoid drinking anything that is red or orange before your procedure.
- Dress comfortably: Complications during your procedure are rare and may not occur, but the experience can still cause some level of discomfort. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothes and avoid wearing any jewellery. Glasses and dentures will be removed before any procedure as well.
- Consent forms and necessary paperwork: As with any procedure, you will be required to fill out consent forms and other paperwork ahead of time. Some of this may be done before the day of your procedure. It is important to complete and submit all forms of paperwork necessary for your doctor to go ahead with the scope procedure.
- Recovery: Scopes do have minor effects on a person post-procedure, so it is important to plan for a little time to rest and recuperate. You may experience mild discomfort in the area the scope was inserted (such as the mouth and throat) and effects (drowsiness) of the sedative / medication used to relax you while it wears off. Post procedure you may experience some abdominal bloating, cramping, gas (or flatulence) due to air being used to inflate certain areas and/or a sore throat. These symptoms will be mild and improve with a little time. You may begin to feel alert soon after the procedure, but reaction times (reflexes) may be impaired and delays in judgement may occur for some time.