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endoscopia

Digestive Endoscopy

What is an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined internally using an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, long, flexible tube that contains a light source and a video camera, so that images of the inside of your body can be relayed to an external monitor (screen). Besides photography it can also be used to take biopsies and retrieval of foreign objects.

Endoscopes are used mainly as a diagnostic tool and can be inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as your throat or anus or through a small surgical incision made in the skin.

Types of endoscopies

Gastroscopy

This is an endoscopy used to diagnose problems in the upper part of your digestive tract. This includes your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first section of your small intestine).

Indications

If you have symptoms such as recurring indigestion, recurring heartburn, pains in the upper abdomen, repeated vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or other symptoms thought to be coming from the upper gut, a gastroscopy will be advised. Conditions which can be confirmed include:

  • Oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus) – areas of redness on the lining of the oesophagus will be seen
  • Duodenal or stomach ulcer – a small, red crater on the inside lining of the duodenum or stomach will be seen
  • Duodenitis (inflammation of the duodenum)
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
  • Cancer of the stomach or oesophagus

What happens during a gastroscopy?

Your throat will be numbed by spraying on a local anaeathetic and you will be given a sedative to help you relax.  You will be admitted as an outpatient or ‘day case’ as the procedure usually takes about 10 minutes.

Results

The findings or results will be discussed with you immediately after the procedure. If you have a biopsy, the results usually take about a week.

Colonoscopy

This is an endoscopy used to diagnose problems in your colon or large bowel.  The colon is the part of the gut which comes after the small intestine. The last part of the colon leads into the rectum where faeces (stools) are stored before being passed out from the anus.

Indications

A colonoscopy may be advised if you have symptoms such as bleeding from the anus, pains in the lower abdomen, persistent diarrhea, change in bowel habits or other symptoms thought to be coming from the colon. Conditions which can be confirmed include:

  • Inflammatory diseases such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – causes inflammation of the colon
  • Diverticula – pouches which form in the lining of the colon
  • Polyps of the colon – small lumps of tissue which hang from the inside lining of the colon
  • Bowel cancer
  • Coeliacs disease – intolerance to gluten

Various other conditions may also be detected.  Often a colonoscopy is normal. However, a normal result may help to rule-out certain possible causes of your symptoms.

What happens during a colonoscopy?

Prior to the procedure you will be asked to prepare your bowel so that it is empty. A colonoscopy is routinely done as an out-patient or day case and is performed under sedation to help you relax.

Air is then passed through the tube into the colon to make it expand and the bowel wall easier to see. This may cause you to feel as if you want to go to the toilet (although there will be no faeces to pass). The air may also make you feel bloated, cause some mild ‘wind pains’, and may cause you to pass wind.

During the procedure, one or more biopsies (samples of tissue) maybe taken for examination.  Any polyps found on the bowel wall will also be removed.  Polyps are small lumps of tissue which hang from the inside lining of the colon.  They are harmless but can sometimes turn into cancer.

The procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Results

The findings or results will be discussed with you immediately after the procedure.  If you have a biopsy or polyps removed, the results will be ready within a week.