How is an Endoscopy Performed?

When you arrive to check in for your procedure, a Mount Sinai intake coordinator will ask you questions about your medical history, medications you take, allergies, and other matters relating to your health and medical history.

Before the procedure, a nurse will measure your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen saturation, using sophisticated noninvasive monitors. An intravenous (IV) tube may be inserted into a vein in your arm, to give you fluids and medication during the procedure.

The procedure usually lasts anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes. You may have your throat sprayed with a local anesthetic before the test begins and be given medication through a vein to help you relax during the examination. In some cases, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist may be present to administer your sedation.

You will be laid on your side or back in a comfortable position. Depending on the type of procedure, a scope will be inserted either from above (mouth) or below (anus) and gently guided through your digestive tract.

A small volume of air is gently introduced into your gastrointestinal tract during the procedure so that the lining of your gastrointestinal tract expands slightly, giving your doctor a better view. This process does not interfere with your breathing and it does not hurt at all.

Most patients undergoing endoscopy fall asleep during the procedure; many say that they don't even remember having the procedure done at all.

After the administration of a sedative, the procedure is performed while you are lying comfortably on your left side. The endoscope is inserted through the anus and is moved around the bends of the colon. Your doctor will examine the colon closely for any abnormalities or polyps-small growths in the colon that can be precancerous. If a polyp is found, your doctor may elect to remove the polyp during your colonoscopy. Polyps are common, and their early removal may prevent colon cancer from developing.

Biopsies may be performed during any endoscopic procedure through the use of a specialized instrument that accurately samples tiny pieces of digestive lining tissue. These tissue samples are then sent to the laboratory to be analyzed. Keep in mind that a biopsy may be conducted for any number of reasons and does not mean that your doctor suspects that you may have cancer.