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Colonoscopy and Other Endoscopy Procedures

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

Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy to diagnose the cause of stomach pain, ulcers, gastritis, chronic constipation, or diarrhea.

A colonoscopy is a specific kind of endoscopy that is used to look for signs of colon cancer. Compared to at-home colon cancer screening options, colonoscopies are better at finding cancer cells early. Learn how to prepare for your next colonoscopy.

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WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AN ENDOSCOPY

Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for your endoscopy. Make sure you understand the instructions and follow them closely so that the procedure goes smoothly.

You will either be sedated or have anesthesia during the procedure, which will keep you comfortable.

During an upper endoscopy, your doctor inserts a long tube called an endoscope through your mouth and into your stomach and upper digestive tract.

During a lower endoscopy, your doctor inserts the tube through your rectum and into your colon.

Depending on what kind of endoscopy you need, the doctor may inflate your digestive tract using soft air pressure. Your doctor will take pictures and video. Special tools may be used to collect a sample or remove abnormal tissue (called a polyp).

After your endoscopy, you may feel groggy while sedation wears off. You’ll need somebody with you who can drive you home. It’s natural to experience some bloating or cramping after your procedure.

TYPES OF ENDOSCOPY PROCEDURES

There are five common types of endoscopies:

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is the best screening tool for colon cancer. Compared to at-home screening options, colonoscopy is better at finding precancerous cells. Plus, your doctor can remove any abnormal cells during a colonoscopy.

In general, colonoscopies for cancer screening are recommended for all adults beginning at age 50, and then approximately every 10 years after that. Your doctor may recommend you start them sooner or have them more often depending on your family history and other risk factors.

You will need to follow very detailed preparation instructions before your colonoscopy. Some people find the preparation for a colonoscopy uncomfortable. During your colonoscopy, your care team will make sure you are safe and comfortable.

Learn how to prepare for your next colonoscopy. Download preparation instructions.

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy, also known as a flexible sigmoidoscopy, lets your doctor view the inside of your rectum and the lower part of your colon (called the sigmoid). The doctor uses a sigmoidoscope, which is a shorter version of the tube that’s used during colonoscopies.

Sigmoidoscopies can be used to screen for colon and rectal cancer. They are also used to monitor colonic inflammation if you have ulcerative colitis (UC).

Preparation for a sigmoidoscopy is less intense than for colonoscopy, but it’s still important that you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

An EGD is a type of upper endoscopy. During an EGD, your doctor carefully inspects your esophagus, stomach, and part of your upper intestine.

This procedure is used to diagnose and sometimes treat problems in this area, such as acid reflux (GERD), gastric or duodenal ulcers, difficulty swallowing, unexplained chest or abdominal pain, weight loss, or anemia.

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.

 

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

ERCP is a specialized type of upper endoscopy used to assess your bile duct, pancreas, and gallbladder. The doctor inserts the endoscope though your mouth and into the first part of your small bowel.

ERCP allows your doctor to diagnose, treat, and document any abnormalities including gallstones, cancer, cysts, and strictures in the bile or pancreatic duct.

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.

 

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

ERCP is a specialized type of upper endoscopy used to evaluate the bile duct, pancreas, and gallbladder. The doctor inserts the endoscope though your mouth and into the first part of your small bowel.

ERCP allows your doctor to diagnose, treat, and document any abnormalities including gallstones, cancer, cysts, and strictures in the bile or pancreatic duct.

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.