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It is likely that you will have to have an endoscopy at some point in your life. This is the protocol for diagnosing different diseases that can affect the stomach, esophagus and even the duodenum — that is, the first part of the small intestine.
Despite being common and quick, this exam usually generates many doubts and even fear in patients. This is because a tube is inserted into the mouth and reaches the organs to be analyzed. What’s more, the procedure involves anesthesia.
So what is endoscopy? Is this exam safe? What preparation is needed? What precautions should be taken? In this post, we will explain these details better, so you understand that this is an important procedure and that it can even save your life. Check out!
What is endoscopy and what is this test used for?
Endoscopy is an examination aimed at analyzing the digestive system – more specifically, the so-called upper part. It serves to diagnose common diseases such as ulcers, gastritis, reflux and even the different types of cancer that can affect this region of the body.
In addition, it plays an important role in diagnosing bleeding, esophagitis, hiatal hernia, and more. It can even be used to identify the presence of the H. pylori bacteria.
In this case, it is customary to take a sample from the stomach wall to make the correct detection. Thus, in addition to investigating symptoms, endoscopy also helps in performing surgical procedures and biopsies.
When is an endoscopy necessary?
Endoscopy is required when medically recommended. This depends on the symptoms present, which will be analyzed by the health professional.
In general, it is necessary to carry out this procedure when there is the presence of:
- azia ou pirose;
- gastritis and reflux;
- dark stools;
- frequent nausea and vomiting;
- pain in the upper abdomen;
- anorexia or other types of eating disorders, which lead to weight loss for no apparent reason;
- lack of appetite;
- sensation of stuffing;
- risk factors for cancer, especially of the stomach and esophagus;
How is the endoscopy exam done?
The endoscopy examination is performed by inserting the endoscope. This is a tube placed in the mouth and down the patient’s throat until it reaches the stomach or the place that will be analyzed. For this, there is the application of intravenous sedative, in order to avoid nausea in the patient.
However, sedation is short-lived, remaining only until the completion of the procedure – which lasts about 15 minutes. In addition, a mouth guard is inserted to prevent the patient from biting the endoscope. During this period, heart rate and oxygenation are monitored.
To find out how endoscopy is performed, you must understand that the camera inserted at the endoscope tip presents real-time images of the digestive tract. This allows the doctor to look at the condition of the tissues, remove some material, and take pictures for later analysis. In this way, it is possible to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.
Potential complications are rare — yet they can happen. In this case, some possibilities are:
- bleeding, which is usually due to removing a polyp or performing a biopsy and is usually minimal;
- irritation at the injection site of intravenous medication;
- reaction to sedatives, such as anaphylactic shock or apnoea;
- heart complications such as arrhythmias;
- pulmonary complications, for example, in relation to aspiration.
How is sedation done for endoscopy?
Sedation for endoscopy is done by applying the drug into the patient’s vein. It is light and its dosage may vary according to the age and biotype of the person analyzed. However, if the purpose of the procedure is therapeutic, it becomes deeper to avoid problems.
Now, if you want to know if the endoscopy sedative is dangerous, know that it is not. In addition to the application being performed by an anesthesiologist, it is recommended that the patient take an adult companion, as they may experience drowsiness or locomotion difficulties.
What preparation is needed to take the exam?
Preparation for endoscopy requires a light diet the day before. Therefore, it is contraindicated to consume foods that are difficult to digest, such as red meat. After all, the stomach needs to be completely empty to visualize the organ.
Due to this same reason, it is necessary to fast for eight hours before the exam is performed. Depending on the medication used by the patient, the doctor may also request its temporary suspension, to avoid altering blood clotting.
Before carrying out the procedure, a solution with medication is also administered to eliminate bubbles and gases. On the stretcher, the patient receives a kind of mask, so that his mouth remains open.
What care needs to be taken after the exam?
Care after endoscopy requires the patient to rest for a certain period at the clinic, until released by the medical team. He is also prevented from carrying out risky activities or activities that require concentration, including driving.
In this sense, some of the practices that are not recommended are:
- drink alcoholic beverages;
- operate machines;
- take care of kids;
- sign documents;
- perform physical exercises.
It is possible that other uncomfortable symptoms will appear, such as throat clearing, throat irritation, gaseous discomfort and mild colic. However, they are all passengers.
Thus, the whole procedure is quite safe and hardly presents any problems. In any case, it is worth knowing how sedation is performed in endoscopy, in order to prepare and avoid unpleasant surprises.
The most important thing is to understand that this is a fundamental test for diagnosing diseases of the digestive system, even at an early stage. This increases the chances of cure and allows for proper medical intervention. As a result, there is also a better quality of life.
Therefore, instead of being afraid of endoscopy, the ideal is to undergo the procedure whenever necessary. After all, the endoscope is between 0.5 cm and 1.5 cm in diameter. That is, it is quite small compared to the benefits they can bring.
And you, want to better understand how to avoid some of the main diseases that appear in digestion? Discover the foods that help in this process!
Technical review: Alexandre R. Marra, researcher at the Instituto Israelita de Ensino e Pesquisa Albert Einstein (IIEP) and permanent professor at the Graduate Program in Health Sciences at the Faculdade Israelita de Ciências da Saúde Albert Einstein (FICSAE).