What is having a paediatric endoscopy like?

Find out what will happen once you arrive for your endoscopy, who you will meet, and how it will be done.


On the day of your paediatric endoscopy you will go to the hospital, unless you took your bowel prep while staying at hospital.

Endoscopies in children and adults are day cases, this means you will go home the same day, though you will be staying for quite a few hours.

Before your endoscopy

After arriving at hospital you will be seen by the doctor who will be doing your endoscopy, and they will explain everything that is going to happen. They will also ask you (or your parents or guardian) to sign a consent form - signing this means you agree to have the endoscopy.

You may also meet a research nurse who will ask if you would be willing to donate some extra biopsy and blood samples during your endoscopy for research into IBD. The nurse will explain what this involves and you don’t have to agree to this, it is completely your choice.

You will be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown. You may be able to bring your own dressing gown and slippers, and you should have something with you to keep you busy (such as a book or tablet) while you wait for your turn.

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General anaesthetic

For the procedure you will have a general anaesthetic, a medicine which puts you to sleep throughout the endoscopy given by an anaesthetist.

You will meet the anaesthetist, who will put a cannula in the back of your hand. A cannula is a tiny plastic tube, inserted into a vein using a small needle. It is put there so medicine, such as your general anaesthetic, can be put directly into your bloodstream. They may also take some blood samples through the cannula to test. You will be offered numbing cream or freeze spray to put on your hand before the cannula is inserted, which can make it less uncomfortable. 

Sometimes, if you are feeling very worried or upset, the anaesthetist may give you a pre-med, a medicine that will help you to relax.

When it is time for your endoscopy, you will be given your general anaesthetic, and pretty soon you will be fast asleep. Usually a grown up can stay with you until you are asleep, however this may be different in some hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During your endoscopy

Whilst you are asleep, the doctor will carry out the endoscopy which involves inserting a camera into your mouth (gastroscopy) and a different one into your bum (colonoscopy). Sometimes there will be a trainee doctor there too, who will be learning about how to do an endoscopy. The anaesthetist will also stay to make sure you are safe and comfortable.

Gastroscopy

During your gastroscopy, an endoscope will be carefully guided into your mouth, down your oesophagus (the part of your digestive tract between your throat and your stomach), into your stomach. An endoscope is a long flexible tube with a camera and a light on the end. It is a thin tube that will not get in the way of your breathing.

The doctor will look at the inside of your digestive tract on a TV screen that receives images from the camera inside you. Pictures will also be taken, which you can look at afterwards (if you want to!). Biopsies (tiny tissue samples) may be taken using a little tool on the end of the camera, ready to be sent to the pathology laboratory to be examined under a microscope. You won’t feel the biopsies being taken.

Once the doctor has enough information, the endoscope will gently be removed.

Colonoscopy

During your colonoscopy, an endoscope (not the same one that was used during your gastroscopy) will be gently inserted into your bottom, through your anus and up into your colon. The camera will be guided along your entire colon, and into the end of your small bowel. The doctor will look at images of the lining of your bowel on the TV screen and more pictures will be taken. Biopsies will be taken from the lining of your bowel ready to be sent for examination in the pathology laboratory. Again, you won’t feel the biopsies being taken. 

Once the colonoscopy is completed, the camera will be carefully removed.

The whole thing will usually take between 45 minutes and an hour. Once it’s completed, you will be taken to a recovery area. Your grown up can join you as you wake up.

After your endoscopy

The doctor will come to discuss with you what they saw during the endoscopy.  Once you have recovered, and have had something to eat and drink, you will be able to go home. 

You shouldn’t feel unwell, but you may possibly have a tummy ache, or trapped gas, and may bleed a little from your bottom. If you have any concerns, you can contact your IBD team.

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