Diagnostic Procedures

Prior to undergoing any type of operation, whether it is incisionless, single incision or laparoscopic, every patient will be guided through the process of diagnostic imagery procedures. These procedures include imagery exams like the upper endoscopy (EGD) and colonoscopy, both of which can provide further insight into the cause and severity of conditions of the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract.

EGDs and colonoscopies are especially important in the early detection of potential cancerous polyps within the gastrointestinal tract.

Patients can undergo minimally invasive EGD and colonoscopy diagnostic procedures at GI Surgical Specialists. Though both procedures involve taking a further look at the internal gastrointestinal tract, each procedure is performed differently.

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

An upper endoscopy, also known as EGD or gastroscopy, is a diagnostic procedure that examines the lining of the esophagus, stomach and the first portion of the small intestine (duodenum). During an upper endoscopy, your GI Surgical Specialists surgeon will orally insert an endoscope, a flexible, lighted tube equipped with surgical tools, into the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract. An upper endoscopy helps your surgeon see internal areas better than x-rays and other diagnostic tests.

An upper endoscopy might be advised to properly diagnose the following conditions:

  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Tumors, inflammation and ulcers
  • Chronic and severe acid reflux and heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

During an Upper Endoscopy

Prior to the EGD exam your throat is sprayed with a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort, and a general anesthetic might be introduced to help you relax. As you lie on your left side the endoscope will gently pass through your mouth and into your esophagus, stomach and duodenum before retreating.

The entire diagnostic procedure typically lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. A patient is kept asleep but breathing on their own and will not remember the procedure due to the anesthesia medicine.

Before and following your minimally invasive upper endoscopy, your surgeon will give you a specific set of instructions to follow. Make sure to have someone available to drive you home following your procedure as you will not be advised to drive due to the anesthetic.

To increase visibility your surgeon will use the endoscope to pump small quantities of air into the digestive tract. This could produce cramping and bloating following the exam as air escape the intestines.  Speak with your surgeon regarding any questions or concerns you have regarding your upper endoscopy diagnostic procedure.

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to evaluate and diagnose irregularities of the lower gastrointestinal tract, specifically the colon and the rectum.

A colonoscopy exam is often used to diagnose the cause of the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Occurrence of blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexpected change in bowel habits
  • Unanticipated weight loss

The colonoscopy procedure is generally used to screen patients for colon and rectum cancer, as well as to assess the health of the large intestine. Polyps, or precancerous growths, can often be detected and safely removed during a colonoscopy procedure. In addition to colon cancer screening, this diagnostic procedure is often used to treat irregularities of the lower gastrointestinal tract, like lesions or tears in colorectal tissue or dilating blockages.

Colonoscopies are recommended preventative screening for adults over the age of 50. Patients diagnosed with conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or have a history of colon polyps might be recommended for regular colonoscopy screenings.

During a Colonoscopy

The colonoscopy exam generally lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. A sedative will be administered prior to the exam to help you relax during the procedure. During the colonoscopy you will lie on your left side as the surgeon inserts a thin, flexible tube known as the colonoscope through the rectum and into the gastrointestinal tract. The colonoscope is equipped with a light and camera that allows your surgeon to see inside the colon and rectum.

Patients may experience minor discomfort and cramping during the colonoscopy procedure. If any irregularities within the gastrointestinal tract are detected by the colonoscope, your surgeon is able to obtain a tissue sample or biopsy fur further examination.

Your surgeon will issue a detailed list of instructions to follow before and after your colonoscopy procedure. Schedule someone to bring you home following the procedure as you will not be permitted to drive due to the sedative. Feelings of gas or cramping may linger for the remainder of the day following your colonoscopy.