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What to Expect During an Endoscopy

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By: burgundy bug


Source: Above the Clouds | Penelope Peru Photography P³

An Upper Endoscopy, also referred to as an EGD, is a common medical procedure in which a small camera and light (known as an endoscope) are used to take a look at the upper gastrointestinal tract – your esophagus, stomach, as well as your small intestine.

The endoscopy may be performed by a Gastroenterologist, surgeon, and a number of other healthcare professionals.

Generally, an Upper Endoscopy is a routine measure in diagnosing and treating patients who are experiencing indigestion, difficulty swallowing, as well as unintentional weight loss.

What Can a Doctor See Through an Endoscopy?

By taking a look at your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, a doctor may be able to detect and diagnose:

  • Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)
  • Gastritis (Inflammation)
  • Polyps or growths
  • Blockage (objects, food, etc…)
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Narrowing of the esophagus
  • Barett’s Esophagus
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
  • Cancer

However, biopsies are needed in order to diagnose:

  • Gastritis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Cancer

How to Prepare for an Endoscopy

Preparing for an Upper Endoscopy is relatively simple. Keep in touch with your doctor, who will most likely mail, fax, or email you instructions a week prior to the procedure.

Consult Your Doctor

Prior to your endoscopy, you should inform your doctor of any and all preexisting health conditions, as well as any allergies you are aware of. Inform them of any medications you are currently taking, including vitamins, supplements, as well as anything over the counter.

Be sure to let your doctor know if any members of your family have had negative reactions to the anesthesia or any of the other medications used during the procedure.

Of course, you should make it clear whether you are pregnant or not. Even if you are unsure, the nurse is likely to collect a urine sample prior as a precautionary measure.

Do Not Eat or Drink Prior to the Endoscopy

Before your endoscopy, you should not eat anything eight to 12 hours prior to the procedure. You may drink clear fluids, such as water, tea, black coffee, and juice until six hours before the endoscopy.

Due to the discomfort of fasting, endoscopies are typically scheduled in the morning or early in the afternoon.

Make Sure You Have a Ride Home

During the endoscopy, you will be sedated and unable to operate a vehicle for 24 hours following the procedure to allow the medication to wear off.

If you do not have a friend or family member who is able to drive you home, some counties provide public transportation services that will drive you to and from medical appointments. You could also always opt for an Uber.

However, it really is best to have someone you trust (or at the very least know) drive you home, as you may still feel the medication’s effects.

What to Expect During an Endoscopy

Before your endoscopy, a nurse will escort you to the bed and ask you to change into a hospital gown and no slip hospital socks. The nurse may ask you a few questions about your symptoms before taking your vitals, inserting an IV and briefing you on the procedure.

Then, the doctor will speak to you a bit more in depth about the procedure, as well as potential follow-up details. You will be asked to sign a few papers before going into an Endoscopic Procedure Room or Operating Room.

From there, the anesthesiologist will monitor your vitals and insert a mouthpiece to keep your mouth open wide enough throughout the procedure. This mouthpiece will also provide a bit of protection to the Endoscope.

At this time, you will be asked to lay on your left side. Within minutes, the anesthesia will put you into a deep sleep that will last beyond the duration of the endoscopy.

The procedure itself may take anywhere from five to 20 minutes, however you may be at the hospital for a few hours in order to prepare and recover for the Upper Endoscopy.

Any biopsies needed will be taken by a small instrument that is passed through the end of the Endoscope. The small sample of tissue will be sent to a lab for further testing.

Complications are incredibly far and few between. It is very unlikely that you will wake during the procedure or feel the Endoscope. In some cases, patients have vomited during the endoscopy – but again, this is a very unlikely occurrence.

What to Expect After an Endoscopy

After the five to 20 minute procedure, the nurse will wake you up in a recovery room. You will likely be offered a beverage and a snack, such as water, juice, cookies, or crackers.

As you are enjoying your after-procedure snack, the doctor who performed the endoscopy will visit you in the recovery room to discuss your results. If biopsies were taken, you will receive results from the lab via telephone, email, or mail within a few days.

You may experience discomfort for 24-48 hours following the procedure such as bloating or a sore throat. Cough drops, popsicles, or gargling salt water may provide relief if you are experiencing any pain in your throat.

My Endoscopy Experience

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Source: My Brain 12 | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Honestly? The worst part of the entire procedure was having the IV inserted. I can not stress this enough.

A Little Background on Bug

Prior to my endoscopy, I had definitely wigged myself out quite a bit – and understandably so. I’ve been dealing with some pretty nasty health issues for some time now, specifically bile reflux and a near-constant debilitating pain under the right half of my rib cage.

Although I had grown used to these symptoms to the point of being almost unphazed when I’d see blood come up along with the stomach acid and undigested food, the sheer discomfort of being ill in rhythm with the piercing – occasionally scorching – ache in the right half of my upper abdomen is something I can’t ever imagine becoming accustomed to.

In an attempt to be my own doctor, I had read up on the worst case scenarios – nerve damage, ulcers that penetrate the stomach lining, Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome, tumors, cancer.

I’ve never feared for the end of my life. While I do appreciate my place on this earth and the opportunity to be alive, I’ve always accepted that death is inevitable. Why fear something inescapable? Embrace it.

However, I’m an admitted hopeless romantic. What scared me more than anything else was having the life I’ve planned to spend with my partner cut short by any of the fatal conditions I had spent these past few months reading about online.

The Day of the Endoscopy

I arrived for my 10 am appointment at 9:50, having my last meal at 7 pm the day prior and making the rookie mistake of drinking a wee bit of water when I had arrived (although it was only about an ounce or two, not the end of the world in my case). I signed in with the incredibly kind receptionists and began to doze off in the waiting room.

Around 10:40, a lovely nurse called me back. We briefly went over my symptoms and the procedure before she took my vitals. She stepped out of the room so I could change into my hospital gown, then came the hardest part of the entire procedure – the IV.

The Worst Part of the Endoscopy

Before delving into this part of my experience, I’d like to set one thing straight: this had absolutely nothing to do with the nurse. I have always, always dreaded IVs due to my preexisting fear of needles. I believe I was at the cusp of 14 years old the last time I cried during my immunization shots.

“Trust me, you’re not the only one,” the nurse said after I had expressed my fear. “I’d be more concerned if you were excited about the injection.”

We laughed, then she inserted the IV. Just afterwards, another nurse wearing an adorable “Chilling with my Snomies” shirt rolled me to the recovery room.

“See, she likes it [the Snomies shirt]!” The nurse called to someone down the hall as she rolled me to my next destination.

Shortly thereafter, yet another nurse came and outlined the endoscopy procedure as well as the possible risks.

After signing a bit more paperwork, Dr. David Jaffe, who would perform the endoscopy, entered the room and introduced himself. Well spoken and personable, I knew I was in good hands.

My Endoscopy

Once I arrived in the Endoscopic Procedure Room, I had the chance to speak a bit more with the doctor, assistant to the doctor, as well as the anesthesiologist. All three were kind, informative, and an absolute pleasure. I couldn’t be happier with the treatment I received.

The anesthesiologist proceeded to take my vitals before the mouthpiece was inserted.

“We’re taking your vitals to get a reading of your heart rate and blood pressure in order to make sure everything’s normal prior to administering the anesthesia,” Jaffe said. “We’ll also monitor your vitals throughout the procedure, in case you have a negative reaction to the medication.”

Before I could even think to count sheep, I was out. Out.

I’m a pretty restless sleeper. I move, I speak, sometimes I shake. It’s also not uncommon for what I hear while I’m sleeping to influence my dreams.

I didn’t hear anything. Not a peep, not a sound. The next thing I remember is the nurse who initially took my vitals waking me up.

After the Endoscopy

“[bug],” I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Wake up.” I thought it was my boyfriend, as I’m used to him waking me up when I fall asleep in the car (or more embarrassingly, while we’re visiting friends).

“[bug],” the voice began again. “It’s time to wake up.” At this point, I recognized the voice wasn’t my partner’s. In fact, it was the first nurse I had met.

I guzzled a can of cranberry juice as the nurse went over the results printed out from my endoscopy.

“They didn’t see anything,” the nurse said. “Not even Gastritis. We didn’t take any biopsies, either.”

I was relieved, but this isn’t necessarily the best news.

“Your stomach, esophagus, and upper intestine are completely normal,” Jaffe said. “But your symptoms are severe enough that it’s incredibly important you follow up with your Gastroenterologist.”

My Gastroenterologist, who works at the same practice, had already outlined a number of follow-up tests with Dr. Jaffe in the event that nothing showed up on the Upper Endoscopy.

“You’ll have to pay a visit to radiology,” Jaffe explained. “You’ll have to get MRIs as well as some new bloodwork. We’d like to take a look at your liver and gallbladder.”

I changed into the clothes I had arrived in and threw up a bit of bile. However, that was most likely due to chugging the cranberry juice, rather than a result of the procedure itself.

As I am writing this, it has been approximately seven hours since I was dismissed from the office. Although I had been warned of belching (which I have unfortunately come to accept as apart of my life at this point) as well as potential bloating and throat pain, I have not experienced any symptoms in addition to what I struggle with on a daily basis.

If anything, I felt wonderful following my procedure (aside from the wee bit of bile reflux). I could still feel some effects from the sedation, resulting in a very relaxing, mellow feeling.

All in all, having an endoscopy is no big deal. Well, I take that back. It is a big deal, because seeking help for your very serious symptoms is incredibly important. The endoscopy itself, however, it not a very big deal at all.

It is an outpatient procedure that took my doctor, the highly skilled David Jaffe MD, less than ten minutes to complete. I had definitely overthought the endoscopy and advise anyone else who is experiencing heartburn or reflux to dive into their procedure with both feet. Although they were unable to find the root of my bile reflux, it may just save your life.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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