What is an Enteroscopy?

Enteroscopy is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube, attached with a camera, called an enteroscope, to examine the small bowel. There are three types of techniques a physician can use to perform an enteroscopy:

  • Single balloon enteroscopy
  • Double balloon enteroscopy
  • Spiral enteroscopy

The 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, but your doctor will let you know in advance which type you need.

Benefits & Risks

Enteroscopy is an accurate way of looking at the lining of your small bowel, to establish whether there is any disease present without making an incision. This test also allows us to take tissue samples (biopsy) for analysis by the pathology department if necessary.

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

It’s rare for serious complications to occur in an enteroscopy. But as with any procedure, complications are possible. Depending on the type of enteroscopy, these complications might include perforation, bleeding, and pancreatitis.

What to Expect

Before your scheduled enteroscopy, you will be given specific prep instructions that you must follow. Failure to properly complete the prep will likely result in the inability to complete your test.

These instructions will depend on the type of enteroscopy you receive. Instructions may include fasting, diet and medication restrictions, and bowel preparation to clear out the colon.

The procedure usually takes between 45 minutes and two hours. Depending on the procedure, you will either receive sedation or medication to help you relax. During the procedure, the doctor will use an enteroscope to visualize and record images of your intestinal lining. During the investigation, your doctor may need to take some samples from the lining of your small bowel for analysis. Biopsies should not cause any pain.

Learn more about Enteroscopy

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