What happens during an endoscopy procedure?
The procedure will vary depending on the type of scope your doctor will be performing and the nature of what needs to be examined.
You will be positioned on a table, often on your back or on your side, in such a way that is most comfortable for you and your doctor to perform the procedure. Monitors will be attached to your body, allowing your doctor and his or her health care team to safely assess your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate throughout the procedure.
A sedative or anaesthetic will be administered through a vein (typically in the forearm) by an anaesthetist and will quickly help you relax (fall into a light sleep). An anaesthetic may even be sprayed into your mouth to numb the throat if the scope is to be inserted through the mouth and throat. Your doctor may also use a plastic mouth guard to hold your mouth open during the procedure.
Once a scope is inserted, the tiny camera at the end of the flexible tube transmits high definition images to a video monitor (screen) in the examination room. Your doctor will then begin looking for any abnormalities. He or she can also record images (take photographs) for later examination if necessary.
If having an upper endoscope procedure, your doctor may feed a gentle air pressure into your oesophagus to inflate the digestive tract. This allows the endoscope to move more freely and make for easier examination of the folds in the digestive tract.
If samples are deemed necessary to be taken for biopsy or treatment is required during the procedure, surgical tools can be passed through the endoscope. Your doctor will watch the monitor closely while guiding the tools to either remove a tissue sample or polyp, or stop any bleeding.
Once the examination is complete (usually between 15 and 30 minutes long), your doctor will slowly retract the endoscope and prepare you for the recovery area. The health care team will monitor you while the sedative begins to wear off as you lie quietly in the recovery room.