What’s it like to have an endoscopy?

abstract illustration to suggest the light from an endoscopy
Learn what to expect during an endoscopy. (Adobe Stock)

If your child has symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux or celiac disease, has been diagnosed with esophageal atresia, or has another condition that affects their upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, their clinician may recommend an upper endoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor passes a long, thin, flexible tube with a light on the end through your child’s mouth and esophagus and into the stomach and small intestine. “This allows us to get a good view of this part of the GI tract,” explains Dr. Michael Manfredi, medical director of the Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Click along to learn more as Nathan prepares to undergo an endoscopy at Boston Children’s Gastroenterology Procedure Unit (GPU).

An endoscopy requires minimal preparation. Depending on your child’s age, they shouldn’t consume any solid foods after midnight the night before this test and should stop clear liquids within two to four hours of it. Your child’s clinician will give you specific instructions, including information about whether or not to stop taking medications before the test.

An endoscopy requires minimal preparation. Depending on your child’s age, they shouldn’t consume any solid foods after midnight the night before this test and should stop clear liquids within two to four hours of it. Your child’s clinician will give you specific instructions, including information about whether or not to stop taking medications before the test.

An endoscopy requires minimal preparation. Depending on your child’s age, they shouldn’t consume any solid foods after midnight the night before this test and should stop clear liquids within two to four hours of it. Your child’s clinician will give you specific instructions, including information about whether or not to stop taking medications before the test.

We recommend bringing an iPad, book, or music to your appointment. This can keep your child occupied and relaxed while they wait.

We recommend bringing an iPad, book, or music to your appointment. This can keep your child occupied and relaxed while they wait.

We recommend bringing an iPad, book, or music to your appointment. This can keep your child occupied and relaxed while they wait.

A nurse or nursing assistant will walk your child back to the pre-procedure area, where they will change into a gown and have EKG stickers placed on their chest. The nurse will also ask you about your child’s medical history, check their vital signs, and introduce you to the doctor who will be performing the endoscopy.

A nurse or nursing assistant will walk your child back to the pre-procedure area, where they will change into a gown and have EKG stickers placed on their chest. The nurse will also ask you about your child’s medical history, check their vital signs, and introduce you to the doctor who will be performing the endoscopy.

A nurse or nursing assistant will walk your child back to the pre-procedure area, where they will change into a gown and have EKG stickers placed on their chest. The nurse will also ask you about your child’s medical history, check their vital signs, and introduce you to the doctor who will be performing the endoscopy.

The anesthesiologist and nurse will wheel your child into the procedure room on a stretcher, where the EKG stickers on their chest will be hooked up to a heart monitor. Your child may hear beeps in the room — it may sound scary, but it’s just the equipment. Your child will be given anesthesia through an IV to help them sleep.

The anesthesiologist and nurse will wheel your child into the procedure room on a stretcher, where the EKG stickers on their chest will be hooked up to a heart monitor. Your child may hear beeps in the room — it may sound scary, but it’s just the equipment. Your child will be given anesthesia through an IV to help them sleep.

The anesthesiologist and nurse will wheel your child into the procedure room on a stretcher, where the EKG stickers on their chest will be hooked up to a heart monitor. Your child may hear beeps in the room — it may sound scary, but it’s just the equipment. Your child will be given anesthesia through an IV to help them sleep.

Once your child is asleep, the doctor will pass the endoscope through your child’s mouth and esophagus and into their stomach and small intestine. As the doctor passes the tube, they will look at these areas and may take small samples of tissue, called biopsies. If other procedures, such as dilations, need to be performed at this time, the doctor will notify you first. A basic endoscopy takes about 30 minutes, but the entire procedure — which includes going to sleep and waking up from anesthesia — makes the process a little longer.

Once your child is asleep, the doctor will pass the endoscope through your child’s mouth and esophagus and into their stomach and small intestine. As the doctor passes the tube, they will look at these areas and may take small samples of tissue, called biopsies. If other procedures, such as dilations, need to be performed at this time, the doctor will notify you first. A basic endoscopy takes about 30 minutes, but the entire procedure — which includes going to sleep and waking up from anesthesia — makes the process a little longer.

Once your child is asleep, the doctor will pass the endoscope through your child’s mouth and esophagus and into their stomach and small intestine. As the doctor passes the tube, they will look at these areas and may take small samples of tissue, called biopsies. If other procedures, such as dilations, need to be performed at this time, the doctor will notify you first. A basic endoscopy takes about 30 minutes, but the entire procedure — which includes going to sleep and waking up from anesthesia — makes the process a little longer.

Your child’s doctor will speak with you as soon as the procedure is done, and a nurse will give you discharge instructions. Some kids experience a scratchy or sore throat afterward, which you can treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on their age. Although your child can go home the same day, we don’t recommend taking public transportation or arranging air travel until the following day. If biopsies were obtained, it will take about five to seven days for results.

Your child’s doctor will speak with you as soon as the procedure is done, and a nurse will give you discharge instructions. Some kids experience a scratchy or sore throat afterward, which you can treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on their age. Although your child can go home the same day, we don’t recommend taking public transportation or arranging air travel until the following day. If biopsies were obtained, it will take about five to seven days for results.

Your child’s doctor will speak with you as soon as the procedure is done, and a nurse will give you discharge instructions. Some kids experience a scratchy or sore throat afterward, which you can treat with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on their age. Although your child can go home the same day, we don’t recommend taking public transportation or arranging air travel until the following day. If biopsies were obtained, it will take about five to seven days for results.

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