Digestive Health

Tips for preparing for your endoscopy exam

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Learn the different types of endoscopy tests available to you and consider taking these steps so you have a smooth procedure.


Preparing for your endoscopy doesn't have to be difficult. Learn the different types of endoscopy tests available to you and consider taking these steps so you have a smooth procedure.

By Steven Gorelick, MD, System Chair Digestive Health Institute, Gastroenterology, Nuvance Health 


Preparing for your endoscopy can be easy and significantly impact the exam's success. The procedure helps doctors examine your body's interior using a light-equipped tube that aids in diagnosing and treating digestive issues. Your doctor might recommend an endoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer or to monitor or treat certain conditions like Barrett’s esophagus. Here is what you need to know about preparing for your endoscopy.


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What is an endoscopy?


Endoscopies are a type of test that lets doctors see inside your body using a flexible tube with a camera. The tube is inserted through your mouth or rectum. The test allows your doctor to properly diagnose and treat digestive health issues. Your doctor might recommend an endoscopy if you have symptoms like abdominal pain, swallowing issues, weight loss or gastrointestinal bleeding.


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Types of endoscopies for digestive health include: 


Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy if you are experiencing digestive health issues such as ulcers, inflammation or other types of digestive health-related symptoms. Your doctor might recommend an endoscopy even for routine screening in the prevention of colon cancer. 



Preparing for your endoscopy


Before your endoscopy, make sure to follow any of your doctor's fasting and medication instructions carefully. You might need to avoid eating or drinking for a while before your procedure. Also, inform your doctor about your medications, allergies and health conditions. Learn more about endoscopies.


By preparing ahead of your appointment, you can ensure the best outcome for your endoscopy. Because proper preparation is key to a successful procedure, consider these factors: 

  • Discuss your medical history: Talk to your doctor about your health history and concerns to ensure the procedure's safety and effectiveness. 
  • Understand the risks and benefits: Ask your doctor about the procedure's purpose, potential complications, and expected outcomes to make an informed decision. 
  • Day of the endoscopy: Follow your doctor's instructions regarding fasting and medication to ensure accurate results and reduce complications. By following these steps and communicating openly with your doctor, you can help ensure a smooth endoscopy experience. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider.


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What to expect during and after


Knowing what to expect during and after your procedure is crucial.

  • During the endoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera is inserted into your body to examine your digestive tract. Sedation is usually provided for comfort.
  • Preparation: Before the procedure, you may be asked to fast for a certain period to ensure that your stomach is empty. Your healthcare provider may also give you instructions regarding medications.
  • Anesthesia: You will be given a sedative to help you relax and possibly a local anesthetic to numb your throat. This is to make the procedure more comfortable and reduce gagging.
  • Insertion of endoscope: You will lie on your side or back, and the endoscope, a flexible, narrow tube with a light and camera on the end, will be gently inserted through either your mouth or rectum to get a visualization of the inside of your body.
  • Visualization: The camera on the endoscope sends images to a monitor, allowing the healthcare provider to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Air may be gently pumped through the endoscope to inflate the digestive tract for better visibility. If you are getting a colonoscopy, the scope is placed inside the rectum to examine the inside of your large intestine or colon.
  • Biopsy or treatment: During the procedure, the healthcare provider may take tissue samples (biopsies) for further examination or perform treatments such as removing polyps or stopping bleeding.


Related content: What will happen if my colonoscopy is abnormal?


  • Completion and recovery: The endoscope is slowly withdrawn. You will be monitored until you are fully awake. It's common to experience a sore throat or bloating after the procedure.
  • Possible complications: Although rare, complications may include bleeding, infection, or perforation. These risks are rare and are usually outweighed by the benefits of the procedure in diagnosing and managing digestive issues.
  • Recovery and follow-up: You will be monitored for a while after your procedure. Any discomfort should resolve within a day or two. Follow your doctor's instructions for diet, medication, and activity. Your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure and any follow-up care that may be needed.


Related Content: What you need to know about colorectal cancer screenings, prevention and risk


The bottom line: preparing for your endoscopy can be easy and very beneficial for the outcome of your exam. Your endoscopy procedure plays a crucial role in diagnosing and treating various digestive health issues you may be experiencing. By following your doctor's instructions, discussing your medical history, understanding the risks and benefits and being aware of what to expect during and after the procedure, you can help ensure a smooth and successful endoscopy experience. Don't hesitate to communicate openly with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Your proactive approach to preparation can significantly impact the outcome of your endoscopy. Don’t stress about the test and know you are prepared! Find a Gastroenterologist