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Diagnostic Tests 2023

Digestive endoscopy: what é, what is it for and how do I prepare it

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Digestive endoscopy: what é, what is it for and how do I prepare it
Digestive endoscopy: what é, what is it for and how do I prepare it

Endoscopy is an exam performed by the gastroenterologist to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, which is the initial portion of the intestine, indicated to investigate the cause of symptoms such as stomach pain, heartburn, burning, reflux, difficulty for swallowing or gastrointestinal bleeding, for example.

This exam, also called upper digestive endoscopy, is performed by introducing a thin tube, called an endoscope, through the mouth to the stomach, to allow a detailed observation of the digestive system, and to diagnose he alth conditions such as gastritis, ulcers or even cancer.

Endoscopy can be performed free of charge by the SUS, as long as it has a medical indication, but it is also performed in hospitals or private examination clinics, and the results must be analyzed by the general practitioner or gastroenterologist.


What is it for

Upper digestive endoscopy is indicated to diagnose some diseases of the digestive system, such as:

  • Gastritis;
  • Gastric or duodenal ulcer;
  • Esophageal varices;
  • Polyps;
  • Hiatal hernia;
  • Gastroesophageal reflux;
  • Celiac disease;
  • Esophagitis;
  • Esophagus narrowing;
  • Tumor or cancer of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum.

In addition, upper digestive endoscopy may also be indicated to identify the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers.

How to prepare for endoscopy

To perform upper digestive endoscopy, some precautions should be taken, such as:

  • Absolute fasting for about 8 to 12 hours before the exam;
  • Do not use antacids, such as cimetidine and omeprazole, as they may interfere with the exam;
  • Inform the doctor about the use of anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin, heparin, rivaroxaban or acetylsalicylic acid, as the doctor may advise suspending these drugs a few days before the exam;

It is allowed to drink water up to 4 hours before the exam, and if it is necessary to take other medications, only small sips of water should be used to help, preventing the stomach from becoming full.

How the exam is done

During the examination, the person usually lies on their side and puts an anesthetic in the throat, to decrease the sensitivity of the site and facilitate the passage of the endoscope. Due to the use of anesthetic, the exam does not hurt, and in some cases sedatives can also be used to relax and sleep.

A small plastic object is placed in the mouth to keep it open throughout the procedure, and to facilitate the passage of the endoscope and improve visualization, the doctor releases air through the device, which after a few minutes can make your stomach feel full.

Images obtained during the exam can be recorded, and during the same procedure the doctor can remove polyps or apply medication at the site.

In addition, during endoscopy it is also possible to perform a biopsy, in which a small piece of the organ is removed and sent for analysis in the laboratory, helping to diagnose more serious problems such as H. pylori infection or cancer. See stomach cancer symptoms and how to identify a possible H. pylori infection.

How long does the endoscopy last

Endoscopy usually lasts about 30 minutes, but it is generally advised to stay in the clinic for observation for 30 to 60 minutes, when the effects of anesthetics wear off.

It is common for the throat to feel numb or a little sore, in addition to having a feeling of bloating, due to the air placed in the stomach during the examination.

If sedatives have been used, it is advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery during the rest of the day, as the drug reduces body reflexes.

Possible risks of endoscopy

Complications related to endoscopy are rare and occur mainly after longer procedures, such as polyp removal.

In general, the complications that occur are usually due to allergies to the drugs used and the presence of problems in the lungs or heart, in addition to the possibility of perforation of an internal organ and hemorrhage.

Thus, if symptoms of fever, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain, vomiting or dark or bloody stools appear after the procedure, you should go to the hospital to see if there were any complications due to endoscopy.

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