Gastroenterology caters to disorders in the digestive system of the human body. Imaging tests do not reveal all disorders. Hence, at times, doctors recommend an endoscopic procedure which enables them to have a view of the inner lining of the digestive tract. An endoscope is a thin and flexible viewing tube with a chip camera at its end. The doctor inserts the tube through the mouth and gently moves it down the throat and into the stomach. The camera remains connected to an eyepiece or a video screen which displays the images.
Causes of Digestive Disorders
- Nutritional Deficiency and poor diet
- Nutritional excess
Symptoms of Digestive Disorders
- Weight Loss
- Food intolerance
- Abdominal pain, swelling, cramping or bloating
- Repeated vomiting or blood vomiting
For all digestive disorders, one should consult a Gastroenterologist.
The diagnosis would include the following:
Medical history: Analysis of symptoms or any other pertinent information.
Physical examination: Physical examination includes noting the patient’s weight and overall appearance with emphasis on examining the abdomen, anus and rectum.
These include x-rays and ultrasound scans.
Procedures: Endoscopic procedures provide a direct view of the mucous lining of the digestive tube.
Conditions or Diseases that require Endoscopy
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Celiac Disease
- Barrett’s Esophagus
- Ulcers and Muscle Spasms
- Inflammation of the esophagus or stomach
- Confirm problems of small bowel displayed on x-ray
- Hiatal Hernia
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Enlarged and swollen veins in the stomach
- Biopsy by taking a sample tissue of the Gastrointestinal Tract
Treatment modalities available for management of the disorder
In the initial stages, a proper diet, exercise, stress management and drugs like antacids help in treating the disorder.
Endoscopy – A Diagnosis and Treatment
Endoscopy not only allows diagnosis, but it also offers treatment in several cases. For e.g.:
- Removal of foreign objects
- Management of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
- Dilation of strictures (narrowing of esophagus)
- Removal of polyps (growths from inside of stomach)
Types of Endoscopy
There are mainly two types of Endoscopy:
- Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: This examines the upper gastrointestinal tract comprising of esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine)
- Lower Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: This examines the large intestine and the end of the small intestine.
Known Complications in Endoscopy
Although very rare, complications arising out of Endoscopy are as follows:
- Bleeding and puncture of esophagus or stomach walls
- Abnormal reaction to sedatives
- Irregular heartbeat
Points to remember before and after Endoscopy
A patient needs to remember the following points before and after endoscopy:
- The patient should not eat or drink 4-8 hours before the procedure.
- Doctors recommend discontinuation of certain medications and vitamins for e.g. blood thinners, blood pressure medicines and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- The patient receives a local anesthesia to numb the throat.
- After the procedure, the patient may feel nauseated, bloated or may experience a sore throat
- Since sedation takes time to wear off, hence the patient should not drive for 12-24 hours after the procedure.
Prevention of the disorder
A proper diet and regular physical exercise go a long way in preventing digestive disorders from recurring.
Risk to other family members
Diseases like Crohn’s disease and gastric ulcers tend to cluster in families. An affected family member is a significant risk factor for the disorder.
Endoscopy is a day care procedure carried out under local anesthesia, and unless otherwise specified, the patient may resume a normal diet and medications immediately after the procedure. Hence patients should feel relaxed and opt for Endoscopy whenever required!