This morning I went to the local hospital for an endoscopy. The specific procedure performed on me was an endogastroduodenoscopy, (aka gastroscopy, or EGD), which is where the endoscope, (basically a long, thin tube with a video camera and a light on one end), was inserted through my mouth and down my throat.
What was it like? Was it painful? Well, truthfully I don’t remember anything about the actual procedure, because as is the case with most endoscopies I was anesthetized into a deep sleep. The EGD itself was basically a non-event; the uncomfortable parts of an endoscopy are the preparation and recovery from sedation.
To date I’ve had two endoscopies: this EGD, where the tube went in my mouth, and a colonoscopy, where the tube was inserted into the other end of my body. An EGD is much less aggravating than a colonoscopy. Both require fasting before the procedure, but you don’t have to drink the “rocket fuel” formula before an EGD. “Rocket fuel” refers to the nasty stuff which cleanses your digestive system. I call it “rocket fuel” based on Dave Barry’s wonderful image of what happens after you drink it: imagine you are a rocket, and the toilet is a launching pad. ( Read all of Dave Barry’s hilarious colonscopy article here!) An EGD doesn’t require you to go through that unpleasant experience!
The recovery from an EGD is also easier. I guess this is because the sedation levels are not as high?
Endoscopies are certainly a nuisance, but they are worth the trouble. If you’ve ever known anyone with colon cancer, you won’t complain about getting a colonoscopy once every ten years or so. And if, like me, you suffer from chronic acid indigestion, you will want to get a gastroscopy, because chronic indigestion can lead to esophageal cancer.
While cancer treatments have improved year after year, early detection is still the best cure. Do yourself a favor and discuss with your doctor whether an endoscopic procedure should be planned for you in the near future.