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Endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to view the inside of a person’s body. Originally, endoscopy was only used in the esophagus, stomach, and colon. Now, doctors use endoscopy to diagnose diseases of the ear, nose, throat, heart, urinary tract, joints, and abdomen.
Endoscopy is typically used to:
- Help your doctor determine the cause of any abnormal symptoms you’re having
- Remove a small sample of tissue, which can then be sent to a lab for further testing; this is called an endoscopic biopsy
- Help your doctor see inside the body during a surgical procedure, such as repairing a stomach ulcer, or removing gallstones or tumors
Why do I need an endoscopy?
Your doctor may order an endoscopy if you’re having symptoms of any of the following conditions:
- inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease
- stomach ulcer
- chronic constipation
- unexplained bleeding in the digestive tract
- blockage of the esophagus
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- a hiatal hernia
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- blood in your urine
- other digestive tract issues
Preparing for an endoscopy
Before your appointment, check with your insurance provider. Find out if the cost of the procedure is covered and if you may need to pay part of it.
Your health care team will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your appointment. For example, you may need to take these steps:
- Avoid eating or drinking anything for several hours before the procedure.
- Stop taking blood-thinning medications several days before the procedure. This reduces the risk of bleeding. Ask your doctor about which medications you can stop and for how long.
- Take a laxative or use an enema to clean out a stool from your bowels. Only certain types of endoscopy require this preparation.
What are the risks of an endoscopy?
Endoscopy has a much lower risk of bleeding and infection than open surgery. Still, endoscopy is a medical procedure, so it has some risk of bleeding, infection, and other rare complications such as:
- chest pain
- damage to your organs, including possible perforation
- persistent pain in the area of the endoscopy
- redness and swelling at the incision site