happens when the test is performed?
- The test is performed
by a specially trained gastroenterologist either in the
doctor's office or in a hospital. You are usually given
a sedative through an IV line. You wear a hospital
gown for the procedure and lie on your side against
a backrest on an x-ray table. If you wear dentures,
remove them. A local anesthetic is sprayed into your
throat to prevent you from having a gag reflex (choking
feeling) when the endoscope is placed inside.
The endoscope is about a third of an inch in diameter
and 21/2 feet long with a light on the end. It also
has holes at the end that allow your doctor to pump
air into your intestine, squirt fluid, and suck out liquid
You are asked to swallow at the moment the tube
is placed into your throat. This helps guide the endoscope
into your esophagus.You are likely to feel pressure
against your throat while the tube is in place and
you might experience a "full" feeling in your stomach.
The doctor or doctor's assistant gently advances
the tube until it reaches your duodenum, the first part
of the small intestine.
Next, the doctor inserts a slender tube, called a
cannula, through the endoscope, and places the tip
of the cannula into the bile duct or the pancreatic
duct. These ducts are natural tubes of tissue that
drain liquids out of the liver and pancreas.
Once the tip of the cannula is lodged inside
one of these ducts, the doctor injects contrast
dye (usually iodine) through the cannula.
The dye can be seen by x-rays, so it
lights up the ducts clearly on an x-ray image,
showing any obstruction (such as from gallstones
or cancer) or unusual widening of the
ducts (indicating an obstruction in the past).
It also can light up the gallbladder, which
connects to the bile duct, and helps the doctor
to visualize the liver and pancreatic tissue
around the ducts.
Depending on what the x-rays show, the
doctor may undertake different interventions
using tools operated through the endoscope.
The doctor can remove gallstones or
take biopsies of suspicious tissue. He or she
can prop open narrowed bile ducts with a stent, a
tube-shaped object that can be inserted through the
scope. Depending on what is done, the test can take
from 30 minutes to two hours.