An endoscopy is a procedure where organs inside your body are looked at using an instrument called an endoscope.
An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light and camera at one end. Images of the inside of your body are shown on a television screen. Endoscopes can be put into the body through the mouth and down the throat, or through the bottom. An endoscope can also be put inside the body through a small cut (incision) made in the skin when keyhole surgery is being done.
An endoscopy can be used to:
- investigate unusual symptoms
- help perform certain types of surgery
An endoscope can also be used to remove a small sample of tissue to be looked at more closely. This is called a biopsy.
An endoscopy is not usually painful, but it can be uncomfortable. Most people only have mild discomfort, similar to indigestion or a sore throat. The procedure is usually done while you’re awake. You may be given a local anaesthetic to numb a specific area of your body. This may be in the form of a spray or lozenge to numb your throat, for example. You may also be offered a sedative to help you relax and make you less aware of what’s going on around you. The endoscope will be carefully put into your body. Depending on the part of your body being looked at, it may be put into your:
- mouth and down your throat
- bottom (anus)
- urethra – the tube that you pee through
An endoscopy usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on what it’s being used for. You can usually go home the same day and do not have to stay in hospital overnight.
After an endoscopy
- to stay at the hospital or outpatient centre for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure so the sedative can wear off.
- If you have a sedative, a friend or relative will also need to take you home after the procedure and stay with you for 24 hours.
- bloating or nausea for a short time after the procedure
- a sore throat for 1 to 2 days
- to go back to your normal diet once your swallowing returns to normal
An endoscopy is usually a safe procedure, and the risk of serious complications is very low. Rare complications include:
- an infection in a part of the body the endoscope is used to examine – this may require treatment with antibiotics.
- piercing or tearing (perforation) of an organ, or bleeding – you may need surgery to repair any damage
- an abnormal reaction to the sedative, including breathing or heart problems
Call your doctor right away for:
• Severe or new-onset abdominal pain that doesn’t improve bypassing gas
• Rectal bleeding that turns the entire toilet bowl red (more than a half of a cup)
• Fever greater than 101.5 F or chills
• Vomiting blood, black or coffee ground looking material
• Severe dizziness, fainting or chest pain