Problems of the gastrointestinal tract are quite common – everyone experiences them every now and then, and for one reason or another. But while stomachache, sore throat, nausea, and vomiting are not usually considered life-threatening, other symptoms like severe abdominal pain and bleeding tells you that there is something serious is going on and immediate medical attention is crucial. In these cases, an endoscopy is necessary to figure out the why the symptoms occur. Endoscopy, in simple words, is a medical procedure that is used to examine possible issues and damage in gastrointestinal tract. The endoscopy cost in Singapore can range from an average of $500 to $11,000 depending on the type of procedure and other factors like hospitalization, sedation, laboratory examinations, and the doctor’s professional fee. The healthcare facility where the procedure will be performed can also affect its cost, as well as whether you will opt for an in-patient or out-patient (also known as day surgery) procedure.
If you are planning to undergo an endoscopy soon, or just curious about it, read this article to learn more about the following topics:
- What is endoscopy and why is it done?
- When do I need to an upper endoscopy?
- Who are the ideal candidates for an upper endoscopy?
- What are the side effects?
What is endoscopy and why is it done?
The upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the first part of the small intestine and is composed of the esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum. When an issue occurs in any (or all) of these parts, a gastroenterologist performs an upper GI endoscopy to diagnose and treat the condition. The instrument that is used in the procedure is called an endoscope. It can be described as a long, flexible tube with a small light and video camera attached at one end. For a person who has not heard of – much less experienced – an endoscopy, the idea of putting a long tube with a camera through the gastrointestinal tract seems disconcerting and somewhat painful, but there is nothing to worry about – a sedative will be used to make sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable during the procedure.
The camera that is attached to the tube transmits the footage as it goes through the GI tract. The doctor then observes it with a keen eye through a video screen. Any irregularities or abnormalities will be duly noted and examined. Aside from taking and recording video footages, an endoscope is designed to perform tasks such stopping minor bleeding and opening (dilate) narrow or constricted passages along the GI tract. It can also remove small items that may be blocking the upper GI tract, inject air or fluid, and take samples of tissue for biopsy.
Aside from the upper GI tract, endoscopes can also be passed into the colon (large intestine) via the rectum. This is a separate procedure that is known as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, depending on which part of the colon is examined. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography or ERCP is another type of endoscopy that takes images of the gallbladder, pancreas, and other nearby organs. Lastly, there is endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), which combines ultrasound examination and upper endoscopy to take images and examine various parts of the digestive tract.
When do I need to an upper endoscopy?
A gastroenterologist may recommend an upper endoscopy to identify the cause of the following symptoms: sudden and unexplained weight loss, heartburn, persistent nausea and continuous vomiting, severe abdominal or chest pain that is not related to the heart, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), inflammation and bleeding in the upper GI tract, and tumors and/or ulcers.
It should be noted, however, that x-rays are still considered as the standard when it comes to the diagnosis of internal issues. This means that an endoscopy is not always necessary in all upper GI tract cases.
Who are the ideal candidates for an upper endoscopy?
Currently, there is no specific age that requires a person to undergo his or her first endoscopy. Most experts recommend it at ages 40 to 50. People who experience chronic heartburn that does not respond to medication should also get an endoscopy. The acid reflux that comes with heartburn can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is also the main risk factor for esophageal cancer. An endoscopy can help the doctor keep track of potential cancerous growth and remove it in the early stage to increase the patient’s chance of living longer, cancer-free lives.
What are the side effects and possible complications?
Endoscopy is typically a low-risk medical procedure, but it also entails several side effects and complications. The first thing to know about this topic is that the risk for contacting an infection is low. However, the risk increases when the endoscopy is performed as an additional procedure. Bleeding is another possible complication, and it usually happens when tissue is removed or damaged. It may sound alarming, but in most cases, the bleeding is mild and stops on its own. A more serious instance is the tear and perforation that can occur in the walls of the intestine. Although the chance of this occurring is extremely rare, hospitalization or surgery may be needed to address the damage. To avoid complications, it is best to get treated at reputable hospitals and clinics where trained doctors and medical professionals are available.
After the procedure, it is normal to experience bloating, nausea, and a sore throat. There might be difficulty in swallowing as well. All of these are temporary, and you will feel a lot better after a few hours.
Given the knowledge of the side effects and complications, you might feel some stress and anxiety about the idea of getting an endoscopy in Singapore. It is understandable, but do not let it deter you from undergoing the procedure. You just need to prepare yourself physically and mentally to make your endoscopy experience easier and successful. Choose to relax instead of worry and if you have any question or doubts, feel free to reach out to your doctor. They will be happy to provide you with the information (and moral support) that you need!
Andrea Digestive Clinic
#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena 101
Irrawaddy Road Singapore 329565
+65 6264 2836