What Is Enteroscopy?
Enteroscopy is a procedure that helps your doctor find and treat
problems in the digestive system. During an enteroscopy, your doctor inserts a
thin, flexible tube with an attached camera into your body. This is called an
endoscope. There are usually one or two balloons attached to the endoscope. The
balloons can be inflated to help your doctor get a closer view of your
esophagus, stomach, and a section of the small intestine. Your doctor may use
forceps or scissors on the endoscope to remove a tissue sample for analysis.
Enteroscopy is also known as a:
- double balloon enteroscopy
- double bubble
- capsule enteroscopy
- push-and-pull enteroscopy
The two types of enteroscopy are upper and lower. In an upper enteroscopy,
the endoscope is inserted into the mouth. In a lower enteroscopy, the endoscope
is inserted into the rectum. The type of enteroscopy performed will depend on
the type of problem the doctor is trying to diagnose. Your doctor will let you
know in advance which type you need.
Why Is Enteroscopy Performed?
Enteroscopy makes it possible to diagnose or evaluate diseases
within the body without making an incision. It’s commonly used to detect
problems in the small intestine or stomach. Your doctor may recommend
enteroscopy if you have any of the following:
- a high white blood cell count
- tumors in the small intestine
- blocked bowel passages
- abnormal gastrointestinal bleeding
- intestinal damage from radiation treatment
- unexplained severe diarrhea
- unexplained malnutrition
- abnormal X-ray results
How Do I Prepare for Enteroscopy?
Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for the
procedure. Make sure to follow them carefully. You may need to:
- stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning
- avoid solid foods and milk after 10 p.m. the night
before the procedure
- only drink clear liquids the day of the
- avoid all liquids for at least four hours before
How Is Enteroscopy Performed?
An enteroscopy is an outpatient procedure, which means that you
can go home the same day as the procedure. It usually takes between 45 minutes
and two hours to complete.
Depending on the type enteroscopy being performed, your doctor
will either fully sedate you or give you medicine to help you relax. These
medications will be administered through a vein in your arm.
During the procedure, your doctor will record a video or take
pictures. These can be reviewed in more detail after the procedure is done. Your
doctor may also take tissue samples or remove existing tumors. The removal of
any tissue or tumor won’t cause any pain.
Depending on the type of problem you’re having, your doctor will
perform either an upper enteroscopy or a lower enteroscopy. An upper
enteroscopy allows your doctor to view and treat the upper part of the
digestive system. A lower enteroscopy allows your doctor to view and treat the
After numbing the throat, your doctor will insert an endoscope
into your mouth and gradually ease it through your esophagus and down into your
stomach and upper digestive tract. You may have a feeling of pressure or
fullness during this part of the procedure.
Throughout your upper enteroscopy, you’ll have to remain alert.
Your doctor may need you to swallow or move to help get the tube in place. If
any growths or other abnormalities are found during enteroscopy, your doctor
may remove a sample of tissue for further examination.
Once you’re sedated, your doctor will insert an endoscope with a
balloon on the end into your rectum. Once the endoscope reaches the area that
your doctor wants to see or treat, the balloon is inflated. This allows your
doctor to get a better view. If any polyps or abnormal growths are found, your
doctor may remove a tissue sample for analysis.
This procedure is also called a colonoscopy.
What Are the Risks of Enteroscopy?
After the procedure, you might experience some mild side effects.
- a sore throat
- abdominal bloating
- minor bleeding
- mild cramping
In rare cases, people may have complications after an enteroscopy
procedure. These include pancreatitis,
internal bleeding, and tearing in the wall of the small intestine. Some people
might also have an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. This is why enteroscopy
usually isn’t recommended for pregnant women, overweight people, or people with
heart or lung disease.
Make sure to call your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing:
- more than a few tablespoons of blood in your stool
- severe stomach pain
- a firm, swollen stomach
- a fever
What Do Abnormal Enteroscopy Results Mean?
Abnormal results may indicate that the doctor discovered tumors, abnormal
tissue, or bleeding in the small intestine. Other possible causes for an
abnormal enteroscopy include:
- a vitamin B-12 deficiency
- a stomach or intestinal virus
- Crohn’s disease, which
is an inflammatory bowel disease
- lymphoma, which is a
cancer of the lymph nodes
disease, which is an infection that prevents the small intestines from
Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment with you to
explain the meaning of your results.