Most endoscopies are carried out at a local hospital, although some larger GP surgeries may offer the procedure.
Before having an endoscopy
Depending on what part of your body is being examined, you may be asked to avoid eating and drinking for several hours beforehand.
If you are having a colonoscopy or flexi-sigmoidoscopy you may also be given a laxative to help clear stools from your bowels.
In some cases, you may also require antibiotics to reduce risk of an infection.
If you are taking a medicine to thin your blood, such as warfarin, you may be asked to stop taking it for a few days before having your endoscopy. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the procedure. However, do not stop taking any prescribed medicine unless your GP or specialist advises you to do so.
The endoscopy procedure
An endoscopy is not usually painful, although it may feel uncomfortable.
Endoscopies do not usually require general anaesthetic (with the exception of an arthroscopy). However, you may be given a local anaesthetic to numb a specific area of your body. This may be in the form of a spray or lozenge to numb your throat, for example.
You may also be offered a sedative which makes you feel more relaxed and less aware of what is going on around you.
The endoscope is carefully guided into your body. Exactly where it enters will depend on the part of your body being examined. This may include your:
- anus (the opening through which stools are passed out of the body)
- urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the vulva or penis, through which urine passes)
In some cases, the endoscope will be inserted into a small cut your surgeon makes in your skin.
Depending on the exact nature of the procedure and its objectives, an endoscopy can take 15-60 minutes to carry out. It will usually be performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will not have to stay in hospital overnight.
After an endoscopy
After having an endoscopy, you will probably need to rest for about an hour until the effects of the local anaesthetic and/or the sedative have worn off. You should not drive immediately after the procedure, so you will need to arrange transport to take you home.
If your bladder is being examined (cystoscopy), you may notice some blood in your urine. This should pass within 24 hours of having the procedure. Contact your GP for advice if you still have blood in your urine after this time.