If you have gut issues, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), difficulty swallowing, or unexplained abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, or anemia, you may need an endoscopy to help identify the problem.
An endoscopy is simply a procedure that enables your doctor to capture images of your digestive tract. There are several different types of endoscopies and various reasons you may need one. Dr. Ayub Hussain at Northside Gastroenterology Associates in Katy and Cypress, Texas, skillfully employs endoscopy to identify and treat multiple gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
We understand that the procedure may sound intimidating, but we believe that when you’re properly prepared, you’ll find the experience tolerable and painless. That’s why we’re laying out the procedure so you know exactly what to expect before, during, and after your endoscopy.
Prepping for your endoscopy
Getting ready for your endoscopy requires nothing complicated but may involve some prior planning.
Up to a week before your endoscopy, you may need to stop taking certain medications. It’s important to discuss all medications and supplements you take with Dr. Hussain, as some may interfere with the procedure. For example, anticoagulants, such as Pavix® and Coumadin®, may need to be modified.
If you’re diabetic and take medications or insulin, Dr. Hussain can let you know if you need to stop them temporarily or change your schedule to accommodate your endoscopy.
Even over-the-counter drugs, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, or vitamin supplements run the risk of causing a problem, so make sure to disclose everything.
That said, don’t assume you need to stop taking your medication without consulting Dr. Hussain. He advises you about how to undergo an endoscopy without compromising your ongoing healthcare.
You need to stop eating about 6-8 hours prior to your endoscopy. Depending on which type of endoscopy you need, Dr. Hussain gives your specific instructions about fasting. Ignoring these instructions may cause a postponement of your procedure.
Because you are sedated during your endoscopy, it’s important to arrange for someone to drive you home when it’s over. You can expect to be groggy for a while, which means it’s unsafe for you to drive.
During your endoscopy
When it’s time for your endoscopy, Dr. Hussain answers any remaining questions you have and begins to prep you for the procedure. He may ask you again about medications you take regularly and about what you’ve had to eat or drink in the past several hours. He may also review your medical history again.
After Dr. Hussain has explained the procedure, the risks and benefits, and his goals, he begins an IV fluid drip in your arm or hand so he can administer medications during the procedure if necessary.
We place a guard in your mouth to protect your teeth during your endoscopy, then, once you’re asleep, we slide the endoscope into your mouth and through your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of your small intestine). A tiny camera at the end of the flexible instrument (which is no bigger than the diameter of your finger) sends images to a monitor so Dr. Hussain can see what’s going on.
At this point, he can either make a clear diagnosis of your condition, remove a foreign object, take a biopsy, or stretch (dilate) your esophagus, depending on what’s needed.
Most endoscopies only take about 20-30 minutes. Once the tube is removed, you begin to wake up from the anesthesia.
After your endoscopy
Although you may feel a little sore in the throat after your endoscopy, most patients don’t report any significant pain. For many, the most notable side effect is mild bloating caused by the air we push into your GI tract to facilitate better imaging. The bloating, if any, typically dissipates by the end of the day.
If Dr. Hussain discovers a problem during the procedure, he discusses the findings with you once you’re awake. If he took a sample of tissue (biopsy), you may have to wait until lab tests are available to hear the results.
Complications after an endoscopy aren’t common, but they do exist, including:
- Aspiration (when stomach contents enter the lungs)
- Reaction to anesthesia
- GI tears (e.g., esophagus)
If you have any questions or concerns, contact Dr. Hussain so he can evaluate your symptoms and advise you about next steps.
To learn more about the various types of endoscopy and whether it may be helpful in diagnosing or treating your condition, call us or book an appointment online today.