Endoscopy

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What is the procedure like?

There are many different types of endoscopy procedures, and the experience of having one can vary a lot from one type to the next. The next table shows some of the key facts of the more common forms of endoscopy. It does not include minimally invasive surgeries.

Facts about some more common types of endoscopy

    Type of endoscopy

    Special preparation
    (usually starting the night before)

    Is it usually done in an operating room?

    Usual type of anesthesia*

    About how long it takes

 

    Arthroscopy

    Fasting+

    Yes

    Local and sedation

    30 to 45 minutes

    Bronchoscopy

    Fasting+

    No

    Local and sedation or general

    30 min to 2 hours

    Enteroscopy

    Fasting+, liquid diet and laxative/ enema if using anal entry

    No

    Sedation or general

    45 to 90 minutes

    Laryngoscopy

    Fasting+

    No

    Local or general

    15 min to 1 hour

    Upper endoscopy

    Fasting+

    No

    Local and sedation

    15 to 30 min

    Flexible sigmoidoscopy

    Liquid diet, laxative/enema

    No

    Usually none

    15 to 30 min

    Colonoscopy

    Liquid diet, laxative/enema

    No

    Mild sedation

    30 to 60 min

    Cystoscopy

    Fasting+

    Sometimes

    Local or general

    15 to 30 min

    Mediastinoscopy

    Fasting+

    Yes

    General

    1 to 2 hours

    Thoracoscopy

    Fasting+

    Yes

    General

    2 to 3 hours

    Laparoscopy

    Fasting+

    Yes

    General

    20 min to 1 hour

+ Fasting means not eating for a certain amount of time before the procedure
*Anesthesia is the use of drugs to make you not feel pain during a procedure. There are different kinds of anesthesia:
    Local means the area the scope is passed through is numbed but you are awake.
    Sedation
    means you are awake, but drugs are used to make you sleepy and relaxed.
    General
    means drugs are used to put you into a deep sleep.

It’s important to keep in mind that there might be more than one way to do some procedures. For example, bronchoscopy and laryngoscopy can be done with either a flexible or rigid scope. Local anesthesia (numbing the area) is generally used for flexible scopes, while rigid scopes often require general anesthesia (where you are given drugs to put you into a deep sleep).

People’s experiences may also vary depending on their health and what needs to be done, such as whether biopsy samples are going to be taken.

If you are going to have an endoscopy, your health care team will explain to you what will be done and what to expect before, during, and after the test. They will also tell you what you need to do to prepare for the procedure. The preparation could mean that you must fast (not eat anything) for a certain amount of time, follow a liquid diet for a certain amount of time, and/or use laxatives or enemas.


Last Medical Review: 12/10/2012
Last Revised: 02/06/2013