Medical procedures may be non-invasive, minimally invasive, and invasive. This refers to the degree to which the doctors must break skin and tissue, and have contact with internal cavities of the body. Endoscopy is among the more common minimally invasive medical diagnostic procedures that are performed today. It involves the insertion of a special tube, called an endoscope, into the body, usually through a natural orifice, such as the nose, mouth, rectum, urethra, or vagina. Through this tube, doctors can closely examine the insides of organs or bodily cavities. Common endoscopic procedures include gastroscopy, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and bronchoscopy.
The procedure of endoscopy is quite simple. If necessary, the patient will be anesthetized for a short duration of time. The doctors will then introduce the endoscope into the body through a suitable orifice. In some cases, when the area that needs to be examined cannot be accessed through a natural orifice, doctors will create a small incision through which the endoscope is inserted. The endoscope consist of a fiber optic tube that is usually flexible, but may sometimes be rigid; a tiny camera at the end of the tube; a light source outside the body to transmit light through the tube, thus illuminating the organ or cavity; and a second channel, which the doctor can use in case a biopsy or any other intervention is necessary.
Endoscopy is usually a painless procedure; at the most, the patient may experience mild discomfort while the procedure is being performed. In many cases, even this is avoided by using local anesthesia on the area that will undergo the endoscopy. The after effects are also mild - there may be a temporary feeling of slight abdominal distention, and there may be some soreness, also rather fleeting. The patient is usually back to normal within a few hours, except perhaps for a sore throat, which disappears quickly with simple home remedies such as a salt water gargle.
There are some risks to through procedure, such as perforation of the organ being examined, as well as infection, but these complications are extremely rare. In case you experience any discomfort, pain, or other symptoms, you should discuss them with your doctor, especially if they last longer than a day.
The report of your endoscopy may be made available within a few hours, or usually the next day. If a biopsy was also performed, it may take a little longer - usually 3 or 4 days. Your doctor will discuss the results of your endoscopy with you as soon as they are ready.