There are times when a doctor needs to see what is going on in our digestive track. In some cases, your doctor may suspect that you are bleeding from an ulcerated area, or he or she may be looking for polyps. They may seek to find the cause of unexplained weight loss, pain, abdominal issues, or other disease states and conditions.
Besides being a valuable diagnostic tool, an endoscope can be used to perform a biopsy, remove polyps, and even stop bleeding. An endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to examine a patient’s digestive tract, for both the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders.
All About Endoscopy
An endoscope is a really sophisticated, integrated medical tool. Besides being a flexible tube with a camera and a light attached to it, an endoscope can be attached with a small cutting tool, as well as other tools such as forceps, for gripping tissues. In some cases, the camera is even more miniaturized and comes in the form of a capsule endoscope that is roughly the size of vitamin tablet. It can be swallowed, transmitting back images of internal structures and functions. A capsule endoscopy, of course, does not provide the doctor the opportunity to take biopsies or perform treatment.
Depending on exactly what the doctor is looking for, and the type of procedure you are advised to undergo, your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for your endoscopy. In most cases, your doctor may advise you to:
- Make arrangements. Call your insurance company and ask if the endoscopic test is covered. Ask your insurance company if you need a referral for the upper endoscopy. If they say “yes,” then you MUST get a referral from your primary care physician.
- Stop taking certain medications. You will need to inform your doctor of every medication, supplement (such as vitamins and minerals), and over-the-counter aids (ibuprofen, aspirin, NSAIDs, Diuretics) you are taking. Things like blood thinners may increase your risk of bleeding if certain procedures are performed. Your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding your medications especially if you have conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
- Fast before the endoscopy. You will need to stop drinking and eating four to eight hours before your procedure to ensure your stomach is empty.
- Plan ahead for your recovery. Find someone to drive you home. Most people undergoing an upper endoscopy will receive a sedative to help them to relax. Driving home can be dangerous if the sedative has not worn off. You may also want to take the day off from work and it is advisable not to make any important or financial decisions for 24 hours. Instructions may vary at different facilities where endoscopies are performed. Please follow the instructions that you are provided.
With careful preparation, the endoscopy can be beneficial to saving lives. If you, or a loved one needs an endoscopic procedure, or you would like to find out more information, please request an appointment online today. Our dedicated gastroenterologists are experts in GI care. Intercoastal Medical Group: dedicated to providing quality healthcare to the Sarasota and Manatee County areas.