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Alleviate your endoscopy concerns

Holly Wilde, Senior Endoscopy Nurse

It’s normal to feel nervous prior to your endoscopy procedure, but what can be done to soothe your concerns? We’re here to help you to understand the ins and outs of this common procedure, explain what our Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU) does and hopefully alleviate some of your concerns.

Where do endoscopies take place?

Our purpose-built endoscopy suite, located in our Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), offers a wide range of camera-led procedures including:

• Gastroscopy (upper endoscopy)
• Colonoscopy
• Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
• Hysteroscopy

These investigations can be used to examine your digestive tract to investigate the cause of your symptoms, diagnose your condition and sometimes, treat conditions.

Holly Wilde, our Senior Endoscopy Nurse/Practitioner says, “There are many reasons why patients feel anxiety about their endoscopy. Worries about any discomfort they may feel during the procedure, having anaesthesia or having a tube inserted are all valid and totally normal! The endoscopy team will ensure you feel as comfortable and safe as possible.”

What is an Endoscope/Endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a test to look inside your body to investigate the cause of your symptoms and it’s an umbrella term which encompasses all the procedures mentioned above. An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera and a light inside. This is passed into your body through a natural opening such as your mouth or rectum.

An endoscopy works by feeding a high-definition live video of the various areas from inside the body. An endoscopist will then view these images to identify the problem. Biopsies of small samples of cells can be taken from inside the body for testing and to treat some conditions such as diverticulitis. You will not feel this if this happens.

Are endoscopy procedures safe?

Endoscopy procedures are generally safe, but there are extremely rare cases of perforation that may result in requiring surgery. It should be noted that these scenarios are highly unlikely, with one in 2,000 being affected and one in 2,500 for diagnostic gastroscopy procedures.

One in 400 patients experience bleeding for colonoscopy procedures. If you notice large amounts of bright red blood or black poo, then you will need to seek medical advice. It is not abnormal to experience some spotting following a colonoscopy and it should go away on its own after a few days.

We’re JAG accredited!

Our endoscopy department achieved JAG reaccreditation following a rigorous on-site assessment by the Joint Advisory Group (JAG), an independent regulatory body which assesses all endoscopy suites at hospitals.

Accreditation assessments take place every five years, with annual reviews to ensure standards are maintained. This prestigious award verifies that our endoscopy service is meeting rigorous, high-quality standards so you can be assured you’re in safe hands when coming for your endoscopy procedure. If you’re interested in learning more, read our JAG accreditation article.

Are endoscopies painful?

Endoscopy procedures are not usually painful but can be slightly uncomfortable. Some procedures might result in some discomfort for a few days. A gastroscopy, for example, may leave you with a sore throat for a few days.

For colonoscopies, some cramping and pressure may be felt, mostly due to the air used to expand your colon to allow for analysis. These side effects typically go away on their own, but you can contact your GP or Gastroenterologist if these symptoms persist.

Will I be put to sleep (anaesthetic)?

Endoscopy procedures are usually performed whilst you are awake, but you may be offered a light sedative or local anaesthetic to help you relax. For an upper endoscopy (gastroscopy), you may be offered a throat spray with a local anaesthetic to numb the back of the throat.

If sedation is an option you would like for your procedure, you will need somebody to drive you home and stay with you for the following 24 hours. If you have sedation, you most likely won’t remember the procedure much, due to the induced sleep you’ll have.

What should I do to prepare for an endoscopic procedure?

Gastroscopy

You’ll need to stop eating for at least six hours before the test on the day of the procedure. You will be able to have small sips of water until two hours before your procedure.

Colonoscopy

For two days before the procedure, you will need to follow a low-fibre diet. This is to reduce the amount of undigested food that passes into the large bowel. Your leaflet will advise on what you can eat and drink.

The day before your procedure, you will need to drink sachets of laxatives to empty your bowels for the test. Your leaflet will tell you when to take these. Most people usually get diarrhoea a few hours after the first sachet. It is advisable to stay home near a toilet after you have started drinking the laxatives.

If you choose to have a sedative for the test, you will need to arrange for someone to collect you after the procedure and take you home. You will need someone to stay with you for twenty-four hours as the sedative can stay in the body for this time. During this time, you will also need to avoid certain activities such as driving.

Do endoscopies take a long time?

Endoscopy procedures usually take 15-45 minutes. Small samples of tissue (biopsy) may be taken for testing. If polyps are seen on a colonoscopy, they may be also removed and sent for testing.

How will I know the result of my biopsy/tissue sample?

This depends on what kind of biopsy/tissue sample has been taken. The laboratory sends a report of any sample taken during the procedure to your GP and the doctor who referred you for this test. The ACU does not receive any reports.

What should I expect on the day of my endoscopy?

Arriving

When you arrive, you will see an admission nurse in our Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), who will take your blood pressure, complete your admissions paperwork, and answer any questions you may have. Your Consultant Gastroenterologist will run through the procedure with you, informing you what to expect as well as the risks and benefits of the test.

Recovery

After the procedure, you will be taken to our recovery area and cared for and monitored by our recovery nursing team. If you have had a gastroscopy, they will want to check with you that the numbness from the local anaesthetic has worn off before you eat or drink anything. Before you go home, you will be given aftercare information and the report from your test by the recovery nurses, who will help explain findings and any relevant conditions information and advice.

Struggling with your gut health or persistent tummy trouble?

Begin your journey to improving your gut by browsing our Gastroenterology procedures and Nutrition Services, or to find out how to access our endoscopy service, get in touch using our online enquiry form or contact our Private Patient Team via LiveChat or on 01580 363158.

Published on 19 June 2024