A stomach endoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses a tiny camera that is mounted onto a long, flexible tube in order to get a visual picture of what is going on inside of a patient’s upper digestive system, including the stomach, esophagus, and the back of the mouth.
A physician may order a stomach endoscopy for many reasons, such as when a patient has problematic symptoms or diseases of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. The type of doctor who performs this procedure is usually a gastroenterologist, but sometimes an internal medicine or general surgeon will do the procedure. A stomach endoscopy can be done in the physician’s office, an outpatient surgical center or in the hospital.
How to Prepare for a Stomach Endoscopy Procedure
Most doctors will give their patients specific instructions on how to prepare for a stomach endoscopy procedure. In most cases, the doctor will ask the patient to fast for at least 12 hours before the procedure. The patient can usually drink plain water but no other liquids. Eating food will also be prohibited before the procedure, because the stomach needs to be empty in order for the procedure to work.
Patients may also be asked to stop the use of certain medications before having a stomach endoscopy. This is especially true for patients who are taking blood thinners for medical conditions such as heart disease or stroke. Diabetes and cholesterol medications may also be contraindicated for a stomach endoscopy. Patients should make sure that their doctor is aware of all of the medications, including prescriptions and over the counter medicines that they are using. Patients should also inform their doctors of any vitamins, supplements or herbs that they are using, as some of these can also have blood thinning effects on the body.
A stomach endoscopy can be performed without anesthesia, although a muscle relaxant or sedative may be given just before the procedure starts. Because of this, it is important that patients have a responsible adult to drive them home and keep them company for 24 hours after the procedure.
Methods Used to Perform a Stomach Endoscopy
A stomach endoscopy is a straightforward procedure with minimal risks. When it is time to get started, the doctor will ask the patient to lay on his or her back or side on an exam table or hospital bed. Blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate monitors will be attached to the patient’s body so that nurses and doctors can monitor the patient’s vital signs. A sedative medication may be given through an intravenous line that will remain in place during the procedure. This medication relaxes the patient, makes him or her feel sleepy and reduces the brain’s ability to form memories of what is going on during the procedure. The doctor may also spray a topical anesthetic into the mouth. This helps to numb the palate and throat so that the tubing and camera can be inserted without causing any discomfort to the patient.
Patients may be given a plastic mouth guard to keep their mouths open so that their teeth do not bite down onto the tubing. As the endoscope is fed through the patient’s mouth and down the throat, the patient may be asked to swallow in order to facilitate the downward movement of the scope. The endoscope does not interfere with breathing, but the patient will not be able to talk while it is in place. Once the endoscope is in an ideal position, the doctors will watch the view from the camera on monitors. They may need to move the scope around or pump some air into the tubing to get a better image of the patient’s medical condition.
What You Can Expect During and After a Stomach Endoscopy
Most patients will not experience any pain during a stomach endoscopy. The air and pressure of the tubing may cause a sensation of fullness. For a few hours after the procedure, the patient may feel the need to burp or pass gas. This is because of the air that was pumped in through the tubing. A few patients may have a sore throat. The procedure lasts for about 30 minutes.
Understanding Your Stomach Endoscopy Results
If the stomach endoscopy was performed to check for a hiatal hernia or an ulcer, patients might receive their results right after the camera and endoscope are removed. The doctors may give the patients prescriptions to help resolve these conditions or instructions on dietary or lifestyle changes to reduce their symptoms. If a tissue sample was collected during the stomach endoscopy, patients should expect to receive their results within a few days. The pathology report will be delivered to the doctor who performed the test. This physician will contact the patient with the important information about their test results.
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