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What is an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure in which your doctor uses specialized instruments to view the internal organs of your body. It allows gastroenterologist to see problems within your body through mouth.

A surgeon inserts an endoscope through mouth. An endoscope is a flexible tube with an attached camera that allows your doctor to see. Your doctor can use forceps and remove tissue for biopsy.

Why do I need an endoscopy?

Endoscopy allows your doctor to visually examine an organ without having to make a large incision. A screen in the operating room lets the doctor see exactly what the endoscope sees.

Endoscopy is typically used to:

  • help your doctor determine the cause of any abnormal symptoms you’re having
  • remove a small sample of tissue, which can then be sent to a lab for further testing; this is called an endoscopic biopsy

Your doctor may order an endoscopy if you’re having symptoms of any of the following conditions:

  • stomach ulcer
  • gallstones
  • unexplained bleeding in the digestive tract
  • tumors
  • infections
  • blockage of the esophagus
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • pancreatitis
  • other digestive tract issues
Your doctor will review your symptoms, perform a physical examination, and possibly order some blood tests prior to an endoscopy. These tests will help your doctor gain a more accurate understanding of the possible cause of your symptoms. These tests may also help them determine if the problems can be treated without endoscopy.

How do I prepare for an endoscopy?

Your doctor will give you complete instructions on how to prepare. Most types of endoscopy require you to stop eating solid foods for up to 12 hours before the procedure. Some types of clear liquids, such as water, might be allowed for up to two hours before the procedure. Your doctor will clarify this with you.

Prior to the endoscopy, your doctor will do a physical examination and go over your complete medical history, including any prior surgeries.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements. Also alert your doctor about any allergies you might have. You may need to stop taking certain medications if they might affect bleeding, especially anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs.

You may want to plan for someone else to drive you home after the procedure because you might not feel well from the anesthesia.