What is an enteroscopy?

An enteroscopy is a medical procedure during which an enteroscope (a long, thin flexible tube with a video camera at the end) is passed into, and along the small intestine. It allows your doctor to examine this area and treat conditions affecting the small intestine. An enteroscopy is performed in a hospital or specialist day centre.

Why is an enteroscopy done?

An enteroscopy is usually done to investigate and treat suspected bleeding from the small bowel which over time can cause anaemia and low iron levels. It is also performed to look for possible abnormalities within the small bowel including areas of ulceration and abnormal growths.

How do I prepare for an enteroscopy?

Your Gastroenterologist will advise you on the required preparation:

  • If done through the mouth (like a gastroscopy) the only preparation required is to have no food or drink for 6 hours prior to the procedure.
  • If the procedure is done through the colon (like a colonoscopy) a full bowel preparation is required.

Whilst most medications can be taken as usual with a sip of water on the day of your procedure, some medications need to be stopped, or have their dose altered.

You should notify your Gastroenterologist at least 7 days prior to your procedure if you are taking:

  • Blood thinners (plavix, warfarin, pradaxa etc), or
  • Diabetes medications (metformin, insulin etc)

Please bring your referral, a full list of your medications and your Medicare card on the day of your procedure.

What to expect on the day?

After registering at reception, you will be seen briefly by your Gastroenterologist  and your anaesthetist who will discuss your medical history and the procedure. You will then be given an anaesthetic (sedative). Most patients are very comfortable during the enteroscopy and don’t remember anything afterwards. Once sedated and lying in a comfortable position on your left side the enteroscope is passed into the small intestine. The procedure usually lasts for between 45 and 60 minutes.

What happens after my enteroscopy?

Following the procedure you will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the sedative medication has worn off. You will then be offered something to eat and drink. Because of the sedative medication, it is essential that you have a friend or relative take you home and stay with you for several hours. It is strongly recommended that you do not drive, operate machinery or sign legal documents on the same day after the test.

Are there any risk or side-effects?

Overall an enteroscopy is a very safe procedure that most patients tolerate extremely well. The most common side effects include mild throat soreness, and abdominal discomfort related to retained air in the small intestines. More serious but rare complications can occur which include bleeding, or a tear in the lining of the intestine (perforation). If this happens you will be admitted to hospital for an operation to repair it.

Please contact your Gastroenterologist or your nearest emergency department if you experience any of the following symptoms after your enteroscopy:

  • Increasing abdominal pain
  • Fevers
  • Passing blood or black, tarry bowel actions.
  • Other symptoms that cause you concern.

Your Gastroenterologist will discuss the procedure with you on the day of your enteroscopy, however if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.