Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Is an Enteroscopy?

An enteroscopy is a medical test which examines the small intestine. The test can provide a detailed view of the entire digestive system, including the esophagus and stomach. Most people are sent for this test after complaining about disruptive digestive symptoms such as unexplained constipation and diarrhea. A previous diagnostic imaging test, which revealed abnormalities such as gastrointestinal bleeding or tumors in the small intestine, may also lead to the need of an enteroscopy.

This test uses a flexible scope with a small camera attached to it. Generally, the scope passes through the mouth to gain entrance into the stomach. Most people will be sedated and will not feel the scope as it travels down into the small intestine. A double-balloon enteroscopy will include the use of balloons. In this event, the balloons will be used to inflate the area and provide a wider space to view organs and obtain a tissue sample if needed.

The doctor will generally inform a patient if any preparations are needed before having an enteroscopy. Fasting, or going without food or drinks for a certain period of time, leading up to the procedure is a common prerequisite. This is typically to ensure that the stomach is empty during the test. To decrease the possibility of bleeding, most patients will also be asked to stop taking aspirin-containing products for several days to a week before the test.

On the day of the test, the patient will arrive at the test site, which is usually a hospital or in some cases a doctor's office. The patient will be asked to sign a consent form, granting permission to the doctor to perform the enteroscopy. Generally, all clothes will need to be removed and are typically replaced with a hospital gown. Next, intravenous fluid containing some type of sedative will most likely be given for relaxation. In most cases, numbing medications are also provided to numb the throat, so it will not become irritated by the passing of the flexible scope.

After the enterscopy, the patient is commonly moved to a recovery room to recuperate from the sedative. During this time period, a health care professional will be available to monitor the patient's vital signs and check for any side effects of the procedure. Although, not very common, side effects such as bleeding, nausea and vomiting can occur. The doctor may have the results available immediately after the test, or within a few days if a tissue sample was taken.

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