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Endoscopy FAQ

Get answers to frequently asked questions about endoscopy. Your doctor will provide you with detailed instructions and information about your specific test.  

How should I prepare for my endoscopy test?

Learn more about what to bring to the hospital by reviewing our admissions and registration information.

Your doctor will give you a sheet of instructions for your specific endoscopy exam:

  • For upper endoscopy procedures, you’re usually instructed to stop eating and drinking at midnight the night before your test. 
  • For lower endoscopy procedures, you’ll be asked to follow a bowel-cleansing process the day before your test.

If you smoke, it’s a good idea to quit before your endoscopy — El Camino Health offers smoking-cessation programs to help you quit.

Please download and fill out our preadmission record form, and review or complete any campus-specific information below. These materials will help you get started with registration and help you prepare for your test.

Mountain View campus:
Los Gatos campus:

Can I drive myself home?

For your safety, we require that you have a ride home after an endoscopy test. A nurse will ask the name and phone number of the person picking you up. If you don’t have an appropriate ride home, your procedure will need to be rescheduled.

If you need a ride, we recommend one of these ride services:

We don’t consider taxi or limousine services adequate transportation for this purpose.

Where should I go for my test?

Plan to arrive 90 minutes before your scheduled procedure time. If your procedure is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., you only need to arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled time.

  • Mountain View campus – Go to the patient registration desk in the old main hospital lobby. After you register, you’ll be directed to the endoscopy center where you’ll check in with the admitting nurse.
  • Los Gatos campus – Endoscopy tests are performed in the emergency department. You’ll check in at the emergency department registration desk.

Will I be awake during the procedure?

Most people are sedated to ensure they remain comfortable throughout the procedure. You’re likely to go to sleep with sedation, and it will make you feel drowsy and relaxed even if you choose to stay awake. If you get uncomfortable, your nurse can give you more sedation during your test. If you have sedation for your procedure, you’ll spend about 30 minutes in the post-anesthesia recovery unit (PACU).

You and your doctor may decide to use anesthesia so you’re asleep during your procedure. Anesthesia patients are required to spend at least an hour in the PACU.

What happens during the procedure?

In the procedure room, your nurse will apply the following to help monitor you during your test:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) leads on your chest.
  • Oxygen sensor on one finger.
  • Oxygen under your nose. 
  • Blood pressure cuff on your arm. 

Just before your procedure starts, your nurse or anesthesiologist will begin your sedation or anesthesia.

For lower endoscopies, your doctor inflates your bowel with carbon dioxide gas. This allows the scope to travel through the length of your colon and gives your doctor a view of the tissue. Depending on the test, your doctor guides the scope through your entire colon or to some point before that.

With upper endoscopies, including a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), your doctor usually recommends enough medication for you to sleep through the procedure. You’ll also have a local anesthetic sprayed into your throat to numb the area where the scope will go.

In some cases your doctor will remove a polyp or take a small piece of tissue for biopsy during your endoscopy. These processes don’t cause pain.

How long will my procedure take?

Lower endoscopies usually take about 45 minutes to an hour. Upper endoscopies take 30 to 45 minutes. Bronchoscopies are usually scheduled to take an hour, or up to two hours for an interventional bronchoscopy procedure.

What happens after the procedure?

When your procedure is finished, you’ll be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit to rest. While you’re there, your doctor may talk to you about your test. If you give permission, a friend or family member can be in the room at this time to be a part of the conversation.

A nurse or another clinician will bring you to the front lobby entrance via wheel chair. We ask that your driver meet us there with the car.

What can I expect after I go home?

You’ll be given specific discharge instructions to follow. Most of the time, instructions for the remainder of the day include:

  • Don’t drive or operate machinery.
  • Avoid foods that cause gas.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Don’t work or exercise.
  • Stick with soft, bland foods like eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, soup or macaroni and cheese for your first meal.

If your throat is sore from an upper endoscopy, try gargling with salt water or sucking on a cough drop. A sore throat should improve in one to three days. You may also see a small amount of blood on the tissue when you cough or wipe. This can happen from irritation from the scope.

If you experience any of the following, call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away:

  • Heavy bleeding.
  • Severe chest or abdominal pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • High fever (greater than 101 degrees).
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Severe constipation.

How do I get copies of my test results?

The best way to get your results is from the doctor who ordered your test. He or she will be able to explain the results and how they relate to your overall medical situation.

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