Endoscopic screening

An endoscopy is a procedure that is done to examine a person’s digestive system using an endoscope (which is a thin and flexible tube with a camera at the end).

A gastroscopy examines the stomach, oesophagus, and small intestines. A colonoscopy is performed through the rectum to examine the rectum, large intestine, and colon.

Preparing for screening

Before any endoscopy, a doctor may perform other tests like blood tests on the patient.

Doctors advise patients to come in on an empty stomach for a gastroscopy. Patients are advised to perform a colon cleaning before a colonoscopy using enemas and laxatives, as well as maintaining a liquid diet a few days before the colonoscopy.

What happens during a gastroscopy?

During a gastroscopy, a doctor may administer a numbing spray into the throat. Doctors often administer a mild or heavy sedative to keep patients asleep during the procedure and may administer pain medication as well, to reduce the discomfort of the endoscope.

Doctors can insert the endoscope into the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum without affecting a patient’s breathing.

What happens during a colonoscopy?

During a colonoscopy, doctors often administer intravenous fluids. The procedure is done under mild sedation which is used to relax and sedate the patient and to reduce any pain.

The colonoscopy may cause minor cramping and bloating in the abdomen. The colonoscope passes through the colon to the small intestine to examine the lining of the colon. A biopsy may be performed if the doctor finds any abnormal growth or bleeding.

Are there any risks?

A gastroscopy and colonoscopy are safe procedures with minimal risk of complications. An endoscopy may cause mild bleeding at the site of the biopsy or polyp removal, albeit the bleeding doesn’t usually require further treatment.

The enormous benefits of detecting colon cancer early far outweigh the rare risks of complications.

For more information about when to start colorectal cancer screenings, speak with one of our doctors.

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