Endoscopy in Annapolis Junction, MD
Are you battling stomach pain or another stomach-related issue? Are you unsure what’s causing your abdominal or chest pain? Endoscopy might help diagnose your condition, so you can get relief from conditions like ulcers, GERD, chronic constipation, acid reflux, irritable bowel disease (IBS).
Endoscopy refers to a number of non-surgical outpatient procedures that help your doctor examine your digestive tract and diagnose gastric conditions. The endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera and light attached, is inserted into your throat or rectum so your doctor can observe images of your digestive tract or related organs on a monitor. Using endoscopy, your doctor can diagnose or rule out many conditions, including esophageal and colon cancer, gallstones, pancreatitis, and many other gastric concerns.
Gastric pain can be bothersome, painful, or even dangerous. Endoscopy is a safe, simple procedure that may help your doctor diagnose, then relieve your symptoms. To speak with an endoscopy specialist today in Annapolis Junction, MD, call (410) 266-3613 or contact Dr. Alan Stuart Weiss online.
How are endoscopies performed?
There are several types of endoscopy procedures used for different purposes:
- upper endoscopy: while you are under light anesthesia, the endoscope passes down your throat and into your esophagus, allowing your doctor to view your esophagus, stomach, and parts of the small intestine
- colonoscopy: the endoscope is inserted into your rectum to examine your colon and large intestine
- endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): takes pictures of your pancreas, gallbladder regions, and is also used for stent placement and biopsies
- endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): combines upper endoscopy and ultrasound to get images and information about various parts of your digestive tract
These procedures are typically performed by specialists called gastroenterologists, but your family doctor may also perform endoscopies in certain situations.
Endoscopy may be used to take a biopsy (removal of tissue) to help diagnose a disease. It can also help stop bleeding ulcers. Endoscopy can also remove colon polyps can be cancerous. Gallstones passed outside the gallbladder and into the bile duct can also be removed using ERCP.
Endoscopy and cancer prevention
Endoscopy can be a powerful early detection tool for esophageal and gastrointestinal cancers. It is both more cost effective and can be more sensitive than imaging such as MRI or CT scan.
Patients at an increased risk for esophageal cancer may be monitored using upper endoscopy. Certain esophagus conditions like Barrett’s esophagus increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer, but the increased risk is small even in patients with precancerous changes to their esophageal cells. Most people with this condition will never develop esophageal cancer but monitoring the state of your cells is always a great preventative measure.
A study published in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy showed that ablation techniques using endoscopy could halt the progression and decrease the incidence of esophageal cancer.
During this procedure, your doctor examines your esophagus with an endoscope and may take tissue samples for lab analysis. These samples may be examined for dysplasia (abnormal cells that may be precancerous).
The results of your endoscopy will allow your doctor to determine the state of your condition:
- no dysplasia: your esophagus tissue is normal and not precancerous
- low-grade dysplasia: some abnormal cells exist and must be treated - a diagnosis confirmed by an experienced pathologist
- high-grade dysplasia: considered the earliest stage of esophageal cancer and requires medical treatment
Seeing a gastric specialist (gastroenterologist) is strongly recommended so your condition can be monitored.
Endoscopy of the colon, called colonoscopy, is usually given once every 10 years after the age of 50. Sigmoidoscopy, an examination of your sigmoid colon, is usually given once every 5 years. This is to screen for colon cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
What can I expect during my endoscopy?
Different endoscopic procedures involve different procedures. Each has its own specific purpose and process.
First, your doctor will expect you to eat nothing for 6-8 hours before your procedure. You may also be given a laxative to take the day before. If you take blood thinning, diabetes, heart disease, or blood pressure medication, you’ll receive special instructions from your doctor.
Before your procedure, you’ll be given a sedative that puts you into a light sleep. Few patients remember their procedures. General anesthesia is rarely used. Your doctor will attach monitors to your body to check your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate, then insert the endoscope.
If you’re receiving an upper endoscopy, your doctor will place a plastic guard in your mouth and spray a numbing anesthetic into your throat before inserting the endoscope. The scope will not interfere with your breathing.
You may feel slight pressure as air is blown into your digestive tract. This allows your doctor to move the endoscope easily and examine your digestive tract’s folds. In the case of biopsy or polyp removal, your doctor will pass special instruments through the endoscope.
Once the exam is finished, the endoscope is slowly removed from your esophagus. This procedure typically takes no longer than 15-30 minutes.
Before your procedure, your doctor will prescribe dietary changes, laxatives, and possibly a clear-liquid diet. An enema or laxative drink may be given before your procedure. These precautions ensure your colon is empty so your doctor can perform a quick, effective examination.
You will lie on your side so your doctor can insert the colonoscope into your rectum and advance it to the other end of your large intestine. The camera allows your doctor to examine your colon lining for abnormalities. The scope bends around your colon and fills it with air, so your doctor can see clearly.
If something abnormal is found, a small sample may be removed for analysis (biopsy). Abnormal growths (polyps) can also be removed. Colonoscopy allows diagnosis and treatment without the need for major surgery.
Always follow your doctor’s post-procedural instructions. You may have to avoid certain medications like blood-thinning drugs after polyp or biopsy removal.
Bleeding and colon punctures are very rare. Call your doctor immediately if you experience excessive rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, fever, or chills.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
This procedure is similar to upper endoscopy, but it is used to examine the bile ducts, gallbladder, and pancreatic duct on x-rays. The endoscope is inserted to where the bile duct meets the intestine, then a contrasting fluid is added while x-rays are taken. This contrast liquid makes the necessary organs visible.
After identifying the source of the problem your doctor with treat it with one of the following procedures:
- sphincterotomy: a small incision in the opening of the pancreatic or bile duct that helps drain gallstones, bile, and pancreatic juice
- stent placement: a drainage tube placed into the bile or pancreatic duct to hold it open so it may drain properly
- gallstone removal: ERCP removes gallstones from the bile duct, but cannot remove stones from the gallbladder
Common side effects include:
- throat soreness
- slight abdominal pain
These are normal and generally wear off within a few days.
Special complications can arise following ERCP. These include:
- bowel perforation
If you experience severe abdominal pain, coughing, fever, chills, chest pain, vomiting, or bloody stool, contact your doctor and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Patients undergoing treatment, like gallstone removal, face higher risk of complications than patients undergoing diagnosis.
Patients with diabetes who take insulin or who take blood-thinning medications should talk to their doctor before the procedure. Antibiotics may be necessary if you have an artificial heart valve or have been told you’ve needed antibiotics before any surgical or dental procedure.
ERCP procedures may require an overnight hospital stay.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
This procedure lets your doctor get images and information about the digestive tract and surrounding tissue and organs, including your lungs. Ultrasound uses soundwaves to create pictures of your internal organs so your doctor can view them. Using an endoscopic camera creates sharper images than traditional ultrasound, which are taken from outside your body.
The EUS procedure is very similar to an upper endoscopy. It may be used for a number of purposes, including:
- evaluating cancer
- examining your pancreas, gallbladder, and liver
- studying bumps in your intestinal wall
EUS is also useful for locating and helping to take biopsies.
The entire procedure typically takes 30-90 minutes and requires no hospital stay.
What are recovery times for endoscopic procedures?
Recovery times for most procedures besides ERCP are usually brief. You may be asked to lie quietly for about an hour so your doctor can monitor you as the sedative wears off. Making sure someone can drive you home is essential, as sedatives can affect your ability to drive safely.
If complications occur, you may need to stay at the hospital or return to the emergency room later. Always contact your doctor and seek emergency medical attention if any complication arises.
What are the potential risks or side effects?
Endoscopies are typically very safe, but any medical procedure carries some risks. These minor side effects are normal and generally disappear within a few days.
- gas and bloating
- sore throat
Rare complications include:
- bleeding: more common if your doctor is removing tissue samples or treating a digestive problem; very rarely requires a blood transfusion
- infection: risk increases if additional procedures are performed; most infections are minor and can easily be treated with antibiotics.
- gastrointestinal tear: very rarely, a torn tissue tear may require hospitalization or surgery; risk increases with additional procedures
Symptoms that may indicate a serious complication include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- bloody, black, or very dark stool
- difficulty swallowing
- severe or persistent abdominal pain
- vomiting, especially if your vomit is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
If you’re at a high risk for infection, your doctor may prescribe preventative antibiotics.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
If you’re suffering from abdominal pain, acid reflux, GERD, irritable bowel disease, or a number of any other gastric health concerns, an endoscopic examination may help your doctor diagnose or rule out many medical conditions. Endoscopy is also useful for preventing, diagnosing, and even treating esophageal and gastric precancers and cancers.
Annapolis Integrative Medicine
Address1819 Bay Ridge Ave
Annapolis, MD 21403