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Intestine endoscopy: Small Bowel Endoscopy | Penn State Health

Small Bowel Endoscopy | Inflammatory Bowel Disease | Henry Ford Health

Minimally invasive procedure for diagnosing IBD.

Your small intestine, also known as the small bowel, connects the stomach to the large intestine (colon). The small bowel is often the site of painful conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease (an immune disease in which eating foods with gluten leads to damage in the small intestine).

At Henry Ford, we use several diagnostic procedures to determine the cause of your discomfort, where in your digestive tract the issue is located and how severe the issue is. One of these procedures is small-bowel endoscopy, also known as deep endoscopy. Some other digestive centers don’t offer small-bowel endoscopy because of the time and coordination involved in the procedure, but it’s a valuable tool that helps us accurately diagnose our patients.

Our team includes specialists in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with the expertise you need for a precise diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. No matter what’s causing your symptoms, we’re here to help.

What is a small-bowel endoscopy?

A small-bowel endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which we examine your entire small intestine, which is about 20 feet long. We use special balloons that fit over a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has a light and a video camera. By inflating and deflating the balloons, we move the small bowel over the endoscope so we can examine it.

The endoscope lets us see nearly any part of the small bowel so we can diagnose the cause of your symptoms. We also can treat your condition if needed with the help of tiny tools we pass through the endoscope and into your small bowel.

What’s the difference between a small-bowel endoscopy and a colonoscopy?

While small-bowel endoscopy and colonoscopy are both types of endoscopy, the procedures are very different. Because Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, we use small-bowel endoscopy for its greater ability to view any part of the digestive tract. Colonoscopy, by contrast, lets us view changes and areas of concern in the large intestine (colon) only.

Because of a colonoscopy’s more limited viewing area, a small-bowel endoscopy is the better choice for locating and diagnosing Crohn’s disease.

What to expect during your small-bowel endoscopy

Before your procedure, we’ll give you instructions on how to prepare for your small-bowel endoscopy. You may need to fast (not eat or drink) before your endoscopy so your stomach is empty for the procedure.

If you take certain blood-thinning medications, you may need to stop taking them in the days before your endoscopy, as these medications can increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure. Your doctor will give you instructions about any medications you may take for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

On the day of your procedure, one of our expert anesthesiologists will sedate you. While you’re sedated, your doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and stomach and into the small intestine. You will not feel any pain during your endoscopy.

The procedure will last an hour or two. Afterward, you’ll rest until your sedation wears off. You won’t be able to drive, so please plan on having someone available to take you home.

Understanding upper endoscopy and colonoscopy – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Visiting Dana-Farber? See our prescreening and mask requirements.

  • What is endoscopy?

    Endoscopy is a procedure in which the gastro-intestinal tract (GI tract) is viewed through a lighted, flexible tube with a camera at the end (endoscope). Small samples of tissues cells (biopsy) can also be collected and sent for testing.

    There are two basic types of endoscopy:

    1. Upper endoscopy – The esophagus, stomach, and small intestines can be viewed by a thin flexible tube inserted through the mouth.
    2. Colonoscopy – The lining of the large intestine, colon and rectum can be viewed by a flexible tube inserted through the rectum.
    • Blood tests are sometimes required.
    • Medications can be given by vein if needed.
    • Please arrange for a ride home. You may feel drowsy after the procedure due to medications.
    • Upper endoscopy: No food or drink is allowed for six hours before the procedure. An empty stomach allows for the best view and safest exam.
    • Colonoscopy: Drink only clear liquids for at least 24 hours before the procedure. A laxative or special cleansing solution will be ordered by the physician to clear the bowel of stool so that the rectum/intestines can be seen. (See below for specific instructions)

    Day of procedure

    • The doctor will explain the procedure and get your consent.
    • Tell your doctor about medications you are taking.
    • Discuss allergies to medications and other medical conditions.
    • This is the time to ask questions about procedure.

    What can I expect during upper endoscopy?

    Your doctor will spray your throat with a local anesthetic or give you a sedative to help you relax. You’ll then lie on your side, and a doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing. Most patients consider the test only slightly uncomfortable, and many patients fall asleep during the procedure.

    What happens after upper endoscopy?

    You will be observed closely until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel temporarily bloated due to the air introduced into your stomach during the test. You will be able to eat after you leave unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.

    Your doctor generally can tell you your test results on the day of the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take several days.

    If you received sedatives, you won’t be allowed to drive after the procedure even though you might not feel tired. You should arrange for someone to accompany you home because the sedatives may affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day.

    What happens during colonoscopy?

    Colonoscopy is well-tolerated and rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. You will likely receive a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.

    You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a flexible tube (colonoscope) through your large intestine to examine the lining. The whole procedure itself usually takes 45 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.

    What happens after a colonoscopy?

    Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you’ll have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed. If you were given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be slow for the rest of the day. You may have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas.

    You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor may restrict your diet and activities, especially after the removal of any polyps.