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Endoscopy (literally “looking inside”) is a medical procedure allowing the specialist to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body by using an instrument called an endoscope. Unlike most other medical imaging techniques, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ.

An endoscope can consist of:

  • A rigid or flexible tube.
  • A light delivery system to illuminate the organ or object under inspection
  • A lens system transmitting the image from the objective lens to the viewer
  • An eyepiece or, in advanced centers such as Euracare, a video scope transmitting directly to a screen and allowing for the procedure to be recorded

There are many different types of endoscopes and attachments, and depending on the site in the body and the type of procedure, endoscopy may be performed by a specialist doctor or surgeon, and the patient may be fully conscious or anaesthetized. A specialist may use endoscopy for any of the following:

  • Investigation of symptoms, such as symptoms in the digestive system including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Confirmation of a diagnosis, most commonly by performing a biopsy to check for conditions such as anemia, bleeding, inflammation, and cancers of the digestive system
  • Giving treatment, such as cauterization of a bleeding vessel, widening a narrow esophagus, clipping off a polyp or removing a foreign object

Euracare’s consulting specialists use endoscopy to review any of the following body parts:

  • The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract): esophagus, stomach and duodenum (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), small intestine (enteroscopy), large intestine/colon (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy), magnification endoscopy

While endoscopy is a relatively safe procedure, it presents such risks as infection, over-sedation, perforation, tearing and bleeding. Although perforation generally requires surgery, certain cases may be treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

Bleeding may occur at the site of a biopsy or polyp removal. Such typically minor bleeding may simply stop on its own or be controlled by cauterization. Seldom does surgery become necessary. Perforation and bleeding are rare during gastroscopy. Other minor risks include drug reactions and complications related to other diseases the patient may have.

Consequently, patients should inform their doctor of all allergic tendencies and medical problems. Occasionally, the site of the sedative injection may become inflamed and tender for a short time. This is usually not serious and warm compresses for a few days are usually helpful. While any of these complications may possibly occur, it is good to remember that each of them occurs quite infrequently. A doctor can further discuss risks with the patient with regard to the particular need for gastroscopy.

After the procedure the patient will be observed and monitored by a qualified nurse in the endoscopy room or a recovery area until a significant portion of the medication has worn off. Occasionally the patient is left with a mild sore throat, which may respond to saline gargles, or chamomile tea.

Where sedation has been used, the patient is mandated to be taken home by another person and that he or she not drive or handle machinery for the remainder of the day. Patients who have had an endoscopy without sedation are able to leave unassisted.

To mitigate these risks, at Euracare the consultants specialist work in conjunction with a team of Ghanaian and internationally-trained nurses and radiology & laboratory technicians to ensure that patients are kept safe and comfortable at all times during the procedures.

In addition, Euracare gives special attention to infection control. The endoscopy suite is equipped with a state of the art TD – 20 disinfector to ensure sterilization is conducted according to international norms and standards. As a further safety measure, all instrumentation used is disposable.