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What To Expect From an Endoscopy

Patient preparing for an endoscopy talks to her doctor

A standard endoscopy is a procedure that can help evaluate a variety of disorders of the upper digestive tract. While it does include sedation, patients undergoing an endoscopy don’t have to do the same kind of prep that a colonoscopy requires.

“This is a very low risk test. Of all the different procedures we do in gastroenterology, this is by far the easiest for the patient,” said Andrew Bedford, MD, a Northeast Medical Group gastroenterologist affiliated with Bridgeport Hospital and Yale School of Medicine.

During an endoscopy, a flexible lighted instrument passes into the esophagus and stomach and gives detailed images of the lining of the digestive tract. Most endoscopies take no more than 10 minutes and depending on the symptoms being evaluated, it can also involve biopsies of the lining of the GI tract which can help guide treatment of certain conditions.

Common scenarios where a patient may require an endoscopy include:

  • Those with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD that is not responding to current treatment
  • Abdominal discomfort, pain or bloating
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Pre-op evaluation prior to having bariatric surgery

Preparing for an endoscopy

In contrast to a cleansing which is necessary for a colonoscopy, patients are only asked to have an empty stomach, which entails fasting. Patients will also need to stop taking certain medications one week before their endoscopy, including blood thinners and some of the newer weight loss medications like Ozempic.

How long does it take to recover from an endoscopy?

After the endoscopy, patients will need a ride home but most feel fine and are ready to eat right away.

“Because it’s such an easy procedure, 90% of the time patients don’t have any residual symptoms from the endoscopy itself,” said Dr. Bedford. “They may have some residual effects from the anesthesia, but propofol gets metabolized very quickly. Several years ago we were using other medications and people would wake up with nausea and fatigue and that’s just not the case anymore.”

When biopsies are obtained, results can take about a week. In most cases, patients will find out the most important results of their endoscopy as soon as they are awake. Then they can discuss next steps for care with their clinician at a follow up appointment.