Gastrointestinal endoscopy is a valuable tool used frequently by gastroenterologists to diagnose several illnesses causing patients’ symptoms. This involves passing a flexible tube or ‘scope’ through either the mouth (EGD or Esophago-gastroduodenoscopy) or the rectum (Colonoscopy).
The procedure is safe, effective and usually takes less than a half hour. It is usually performed with sedation. Most endoscopy procedures are performed with an intravenous cocktail of sedative and analgesic medications usually versed (midazolam) and fentanyl. Versed is a benzodiazepine which causes sedation and retrograde amnesia. This leads to the patient forgetting parts or whole of the procedure. This is usually a good thing since most patients not only desire a painless experience but also do not want to remember it.
A variety of interventions can be performed during endoscopy. This involves taking samples of the bowel lining using a biopsy forceps that is passed down the scope. Other interventions include cauterizing bleeding lesions such as ulcers and arterio-venous malformations which are small bleeding spots in the inner lining of the bowel. Narrowing of the esophageal or colonic lumen can be dilated to give patients relief from trouble swallowing or severe constipation. Overall risks are minimal in expert hands. These include bleeding after removal of polyps. This is increased in patients taking blood thinning medications like Plavix, Xarelto, Eliquis or coumadin. Usually after consultation with the patient’s primary care physician or cardiologist, these medications are held for a duration varying from 3 to 7 days prior to the procedure. The risk of perforation is exceedingly rare, typically occurring in about 1:1000 to 1:10,000 procedures. Patients presenting for an upper endoscopy in Redding or colonoscopy in Redding must also avoid for several hours prior to the procedure to minimize risks of aspiration pneumonia.