Endoscopy is a simple outpatient procedure. It is generally done to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain. It can detect ulcers, inflammation and cancer of the food pipe, stomach and the first part of the intestine. The procedure lasts few minutes and the patient has no discomfort after the procedure.
The first myth buster: Endoscopy has always been regarded as a scary and painful experience. It has to be emphasized here that endoscopy can be done painlessly. The patients can choose to do the endoscopy under sedation. The patient is sedated and wakes up as soon as the procedure is over. The first question they ask after waking up is, “Is it really over? I didn’t feel anything”
The second myth buster: Endoscopy is regarded as a cure by many patients. Yes and No! Endoscopy can diagnose lesions. Certain conditions can also be treated endoscopically through special devices.
Polyps can be removed. Bleeding from peptic ulcers can be stopped. Bleeding from varices can be stopped by banding or glue injection. Strictures causing difficulty in swallowing can be dilated. Swallowed foreign objects can be removed. Early cancers can be removed by endoscopy. Endo- ultrasound can diagnose and treat certain pancreatic fluid collections. The enter scope which is longer than a standard endoscope is used to diagnose diseases of the small bowel.
The Third myth buster:
ERCP is regarded as a surgery. It is not a surgery, in the sense that there is no scar. It is also an endoscopic procedure, which requires specialised skills and equipment. ERCP is done to treat bile duct and pancreatic ductal problems such as stone, stricture or cancer.
The fourth myth buster:
There are anxious patients who worry about the size of the endoscope. The ultra-thin endoscope which is only 6 mm in width eases the worry of such patients. Another technological advancement useful to such patients, is the capsule endoscopy which has a camera, light source and data transmitter in a capsule which can be swallowed instead of undergoing endoscopy and colonoscopy.
And the final myth buster: Not all patients with pain require an endoscopy!! Armed with this new found knowledge, you can boldly walk into your doctor’s chamber.