A digestive scope is the direct visualization of the esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum. The medical term for the procedure is endoscopy and the instrument used is endoscope: endo (interior) + scope (to look). Endoscopic, colonoscopic, and laparoscopic procedures are performed by digestive surgeons.
Patients are prepared for the procedure prior to a digestive scope. Usually, written instructions are given by the doctor who will perform the surgery, like what to eat and what not to. Like other procedures, nothing should be taken by mouth after midnight prior to the day of the procedure. The procedure is done in the outpatient department. The patient can go home half an hour after the surgery depending on his recovery.
What really happens during a digestive scope?
- The patient is asked to change clothes into a hospital gown before being wheeled to the surgery room.
- To be comfortable, the patient is sedated. The patient usually falls asleep and cannot remember anything about the test. Sedatives are optional. Some patients do not accept sedation so that they can see the image of their digestive system on the monitor.
- The nurse takes the patient's blood pressure, heartbeat, and respiration rate and monitors them. She then inserts a needle intravenously into the patient for administering medications required for the procedure. The painkiller and muscle relaxant pass through the IV so that the patient will not feel any pain.
- The doctor suppresses the patient's gag reflex and inserts the scope into the throat and down the esophagus up to the first part of the small intestine. With the help of the video camera in the scope, the doctor is able to see the inside of the digestive system through the monitor.
- Abnormalities, such as polyps, are removed by the doctor through the instrument inserted into the scope. The patient cannot feel any pain because of the medications given. This is the advantage of a digestive scope. The doctor can act and deal with the problem directly. Biopsies can be done through the scope without any pain on the part of the patient. If cancer is detected, it can possibly be treated.
- After the procedure, the patient is brought to the recovery room. Depending on the effect of the sedation, the patient can go home after one or two hours when he wakes up. The nurse monitors blood pressure, heartbeat and respiration rate and determines if the patient can be allowed to go home.
Before the patient is discharged, the doctor or the nurse tells him about the effects of the test or procedure. In particular, he may feel groggy and will be advised to rest at home until the following day when he can drive for himself and report to work.
A digestive scope procedure is not painful. It helps in the detection of the most dreaded diseases and provides early prevention. The worst part is the preparation and your imagination of the test that will be undertaken.