Endoscopic Procedures

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Testing for Gastrointestinal (GI) Conditions

An endoscopy is a safe outpatient procedure used to diagnose and treat problems in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as your digestive tract.  

There are many symptoms that can lead your doctor to recommend an endoscopy. They include:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Stomach pain
  • Ulcers

There are five different types of endoscopic procedures, and your doctor will give you instructions to make preparing for yours as easy as possible.

Regardless of the type of endoscopy you’re having, you’ll need a responsible adult with you to drive you home after your procedure.

Please feel comfortable asking questions at any step of the process. Our team of expert GI providers will make sure you have the guidance and care you need before, during, and after your specific endoscopy.

The Five Endoscopy Procedures


A colonoscopy is a type of lower endoscopy that allows your doctor to view your lower gastrointestinal tract. It’s the best method to screen for colorectal cancer.

If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, your doctor will typically recommend that you start having colonoscopies when you turn 50 and then every 10 years afterward.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

An EGD is a type of upper endoscopy. During this test, we’ll examine your esophagus, stomach, and part of your upper intestine.  

We use the EGD to evaluate for and treat symptoms and conditions including: 

  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Anemia (a lack of healthy red blood cells), which may be the result of bleeding in the upper digestive tract
  • Bloody stool
  • Chest pain not likely to be the result of heart disease
  • Chronic nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ulcers
  • Unexplained weight loss
Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

An EUS is a type of upper endoscopy we use to screen for and diagnose conditions in the upper and lower digestive tract, such as:

  • Bile duct stones (stones in the thin tubes that carry a digestive fluid called bile from the liver to the small intestine)
  • Digestive cancer
  • Lung cancer

Using a special endoscope with an ultrasound probe and high-frequency sound waves, we look inside your digestive tract. Your doctor may also perform a fine-needle aspiration during the procedure, which involves using a tiny needle through the endoscope to collect tissue samples for analysis.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

An ERCP is a type of upper endoscopy used to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and bile ducts (thin tubes that carry a digestive fluid called bile from the liver to the small intestine).  

The issues we use an ERCP for can include: 

  • Digestive cancer
  • Draining blocked areas of the upper digestive tract
  • Gallstone removal
  • Liver disorders, such as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) or primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), both of which involve inflammation of and damage to the bile ducts

During this test, your doctor will use an endoscope to view areas of your digestive tract and inject special dye to help improve visibility for X-rays.

Sigmoidoscopy (Flexible Sigmoidoscopy)
A sigmoidoscopy, also called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, is a type of lower endoscopy. Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate the sigmoid (the lower portion of your colon).  

During this test, your doctor will use a type of endoscope known as a sigmoidoscope, which is a shorter version of the type of endoscope we use during a colonoscopy. 

We use flexible sigmoidoscopies to screen for colorectal cancer. We may also recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy to monitor inflammation in your colon if you have ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease).

Understanding Your Endoscopy

Before Your Endoscopy

Your provider will give you directions to prepare for your procedure, for eating and drinking, taking medications. They’ll also give you your preparation prescription if you need one. Ask your provider if you have questions leading up to your procedure. 

Depending on the type of endoscopy you're having, that preparation could include:

  • Adjusting the medications you take 
  • Fasting the day before your procedure 
  • Taking a laxative the night before (for lower endoscopies)

Taking Routine Medications

Check with your doctor about taking medication the day of your exam. This includes over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. They may tell you to stop taking blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), Naprosyn (Aleve), coumadin, Plavix, or vitamin E several days before your exam.  

Be sure to pull together a list of all medications that you take and bring it with you to the endoscopy. This list should include the dosage and the reason you take them.

Arriving at the Hospital for Your Endoscopy
After you register at the hospital’s front desk, we’ll take you to a private admitting room. There, a specially trained nurse will review your medical history and have you sign any necessary paperwork. After you change into an endoscopy gown, the nurse will record your vital signs and start your IV.  

The admission process takes approximately 20-30 minutes. The person who accompanied you can stay with you during this part of the process.
During Your Endoscopy
Your endoscopy nurse will meet you in the admitting room, where they will ask you again to identify yourself. They'll also briefly review your medical records. Then, they’ll transport you to the procedure room. At the same time, our staff will direct the person who accompanied you to the waiting room. 

The nurse and GI tech will position you for your exam. This includes connecting you to equipment that will allow them to monitor your vital signs during your procedure. You will be able to speak to your doctor and ask any last-minute questions.  

Your nurse or anesthetist will then administer the medicines through your IV that will make you sleepy. Most patients sleep during their endoscopy procedures. The goal with any type of sedation is to keep you safe and comfortable.  

How long the endoscopy will take varies based on the exact procedure you’re having done and its complexity. A colonoscopy generally takes between 15 and 20 minutes; other procedures may take up to 1 hour. 
After Your Endoscopy
The recovery process generally takes between 30 and 45 minutes. 

After we finish your endoscopy procedure, your nurse will transport you to the recovery area. The person who accompanied you will be called in to be with you as you wake up.  

When you are awake enough, we’ll review the results of your exam and any other instructions with you and that person. We’ll also give you something to drink and remove your IV. Then you’ll be ready to get dressed and be discharged.
Post Endoscopy Restrictions

In most cases, patients can resume their usual diet and medications immediately after the endoscopy, unless your doctor indicates something different in your discharge instructions. 

General restrictions after your endoscopy can include:

  • If we removed a polyp. Your doctor may advise holding off restarting blood thinners such as: aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), Naprosyn (Aleve), coumadin, Plavix, or vitamin E for several days to prevent bleeding. 
  • For 24 hours following your procedure. You shouldn’t drive or drink alcohol. You must be discharged with a person who will drive you home and assure your well-being after arriving home. This restriction is especially important for some older patients and those with significant medical histories, such as diabetes and cardiac conditions. 
  • We also advise you not to participate in activities that require mental acuity or good coordination, such as sports, legal decisions, or power tool use.

If you have any gas discomfort after the exam, this is normal. We use air to dilate the bowel during the exam. If you are uncomfortable, you may try applying a heating pad to your stomach and/or walking around. 

For questions after your procedure, please ask your healthcare provider.

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