Endoscopy For Seniors: 4 Things You Need To Know
Endoscopy is a medical procedure wherein the doctor inserts a specialized instrument into your body. It’s usually done to look inside your body to see if there’s anything wrong, such as unusual tissue growth or tumors. It allows surgeons to take a look into your internal organs, without having to slice you up and open large parts of your body.
It would be best for you to consult a doctor or a specialist if you think you or someone you’re taking care of has to go through endoscopic procedures. Endoscopy is a fairly straightforward and safe procedure. The doctor just has to insert the scope into your body, usually through natural openings, such as your mouth or rectum, or vaginal orifice for women.
Here are several things you need to know, especially if you have to assist a senior or elderly person to go through an endoscopy:
Endoscopy And Upper Endoscopy
In endoscopy, the surgeon inserts an endoscope or a ‘scope’ into your body through a natural opening or by making a small incision on your skin. The endoscope has a small camera, and its own light. It’s made of a very flexible tube that follows the path that it goes into. For instance, in upper endoscopy, the scope is inserted into your mouth, and it usually follows the path of your esophagus.
Sometimes, surgeons also perform something else with the endoscope other than just viewing your insides or investigating your internal organs for any possible illness or medical condition. They can extract tissues using the endoscope, and they can also perform minor surgeries, such as removing tumors and cellular growth inside your body.
Why Seniors Should Have Endoscopy
One of the most useful capabilities of endoscopy is that it allows doctors and surgeons to look inside their patients’ bodies without having to make a large incision. For medical staff giving care to seniors and elderly patients in assisted living facilities, it’s important to take note of this because a major surgery would require surgeons to have their patients go through general anesthesia. Elderly patients are usually advised not to go through general anesthesia or any major surgery.
Here are some of the things that endoscopy can help your surgeon with:
- It can help your doctor or surgeon determine what’s causing some of the abnormal symptoms that you’ve been showing, which can’t be explained so far by other clinical methods
- They can use the procedure to get a small sample of your organ tissue. This would be sent to a laboratory for further examination. This kind of endoscopy is called an endoscopic biopsy, or biopsy, for short
- Should they have to do a surgery, endoscopy can help your doctors see more closely inside your body through the scope camera.
For the more senior patients, a lot of them would no longer be advised or be allowed by their doctors to go through surgery, especially those who have comorbidities, such as hypertension or hypertensive cardiovascular disease. The reason is that they might not be able to withstand the surgery or they might not survive after the surgery.
Symptoms That Might Require Endoscopy
There are certain symptoms that your doctor may just take note of, such as headache, fever, or light chest pains. On the other hand, there are also some symptoms that your doctor can’t just lightly brush aside because of their serious implications.
Here are some of the symptoms that would most likely compel your doctor to order an endoscopy:
- Blood in your urine discharge
- Bleeding in your digestive tract, which has no apparent cause or logical explanation
- Stomach ulcer
- Unusual bleeding of the vagina
- Your esophagus is blocked
- Chronic constipation
Risks Of Endoscopy
Even though it seems like a relatively harmless and minor intrusion into your body, there are still risks associated with endoscopy. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re going to happen to you; in fact, they rarely occur, but there’s a chance that any of those might happen during or after endoscopy. Your doctor and surgeon should frankly tell you the potential risks of endoscopy.
Some of the minor risks that could happen are:
- It’s possible you might experience breathing or heart problems after they administer the sedative for the endoscopic procedure
- The procedure might cause some bleeding, especially when your surgeon takes some tissue samples or removes a polyp
- In very rare occasions, the endoscope could puncture the lining of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract
The risks associated with endoscopy are relatively low. Puncturing of your internal lining rarely happens, if at all. But, there are still some reactions or symptoms that you should watch out for after your endoscopy:
- If you have difficulty breathing for an extended amount of time
- When you’re experiencing persistent chest pains
- If you see blood in your stool or it’s too black for several consecutive days
- If you’re vomiting and there’s blood in your discharge
- If there’s a pain in your throat when you swallow, and it doesn’t go away
- If your fever isn’t going away despite being given medication
Helping Senior Patients
Senior or elderly patients usually require greater care and attention than younger patients. For this reason, doctors or surgeons often tell the elderly not to go through surgery because it’s too risky. Endoscopy is, thus, a development in medical technology, which is quite useful for elderly patients. Rather than go through full-blown surgery, wherein they have to be opened up, seniors can now be tested or treated through endoscopy.
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