At CBHS we help you manage your health challenges. We believe in offering you the services, support and tools you need to live your best life.
Our Better Living Programs are available to support eligible members towards a healthier lifestyle. Each Better Living Program is subject to its own eligibility criteria.
Contact us for more information and to confirm your eligibility for a program.
What you need to know about endoscopy
Endoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that specialists use to investigate symptoms and conditions. In some cases, having an endoscopy can deliver treatment that might eliminate the need for surgery altogether.
What does an endoscopy do?
Endoscopy is a broad term that covers the internal examination, using a scope, of different parts of your body. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube or a ‘scope’ with several channels. One channel has a light, another is connected to a camera and the doctor conducting the endoscopy can administer local anaesthetic or take tissue samples through another channel.
An endoscopy may feel uncomfortable but it’s not usually a painful procedure. Patients are sedated during the endoscopy and won’t feel any pain or even remember the procedure at all.
The type of endoscopy being performed will determine where the endoscope enters your body.
Different types of endoscopies
The term endoscopy covers a range of procedures, all of which might sometimes be referred to using the generic term, endoscopy. The following are examples.
A colonoscopy can investigate the possible causes of stomach pain, blood in faeces or changes to bowel habits. It allows a doctor to look for signs of bowel cancer and investigate what might be causing gastrointestinal symptoms. The scope enters the body through the anus to explore the large bowel or colon. Blowing air into the colon makes it easier for the doctor to see clearly what’s happening.
The doctor can take tissue biopsies for later testing to confirm conditions such as coeliac disease, and can also remove polyps during the procedure. Most polyps are benign, but some may become cancerous if they are left untreated.
A gastroscopy enters the body through the mouth to explore the oesophagus (the ‘food pipe’) stomach and small intestine.
Symptoms such as indigestion, stomach inflammation, nausea, abdominal pain or bloating, reflux or trouble swallowing can all be investigated using a gastroscopy. In some instances, gastroscopy can be used in place of surgery. For example, doctors can treat a bleeding ulcer, remove a foreign body or widen a narrow oesophagus using gastroscopy. Doctors can also take biopsies (tissue samples) and remove the abnormal growth of polyps.
A bronchoscopy examines the lungs and airways when symptoms such as a persistent cough, coughing up blood or abnormality found on a chest x-ray need to be further investigated.
The small scope enters the body through the mouth or through the nostril and is gently guided along the windpipe at the back of the throat to explore the body’s air passages. Germs or cells can be retrieved using a saline wash. The doctor can use a small brush, needles or special biopsy forceps to take samples from the lung or lymph glands if needed.
A cystoscopy allows a doctor to view the inside of your bladder by inserting a cystoscope into your urethra (the channel that carries urine out of your body) then gently moving the scope into the bladder. Cystoscopes are routinely used to explore problems such as blood found in urine, bladder stones and bladder cancer. The cystoscope is generally flexible for examinations, or rigid if the doctor needs to take samples or deliver treatment. In the case of a rigid scope, a patient will normally have a general anaesthetic or epidural.
A hysteroscopy can investigate problems such as abnormal bleeding, heavy periods, polyps, fibroids and infertility. The investigation is far more detailed than an ultrasound scan. The scope enters the body through the vagina, passes through the cervix and into the uterus. Pregnant women can’t receive a hysteroscopy, so you may be advised to use contraception before the procedure and take a pregnancy test on the day.
Your doctor will generally advise you to use sanitary pads for any bleeding after the procedure and avoid sexual intercourse until 48 hours after any bleeding has stopped.
Preparing for an endoscopy
Your treating doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the type of endoscopy you’re having. It’s important that you follow these instructions exactly for your safety and to avoid any delay in having your procedure.
Depending on the type of endoscopy, you may be asked to fast from food (no eating) for at least six to eight hours and fast from liquids (no drinking) for two to four hours before the procedure.
You might be told to avoid certain foods before an endoscopy, and if you’re having a colonoscopy you will need to drink a preparatory medication, prescribed by your doctor, to ensure your bowel is completely empty.
Don’t stop taking any prescribed medication unless your doctor or specialist tells you to.
During an endoscopy
Staying calm and relaxed can help make the passage of the endoscope easier and less uncomfortable. This is why most patients will be sedated during the procedure, to relieve tension and anxiety.
Studies have shown that being well prepared can significantly reduce levels of anxiety. Listening to music, general relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness can all help reduce levels of anxiety, which in turn can help you - and your muscles - relax.
Many endoscopies can be performed as outpatient procedures, which means you don’t need to be admitted to hospital and you can usually go home the same day. Other endoscopies will require you to be admitted as a day patient, but you won’t need to stay overnight.
It’s worth bearing in mind that an endoscopy procedure doesn’t last long. An upper endoscopy may only take 10 to 15 minutes, and a colonoscopy may take 15 to 30 minutes, although it may be longer if the procedure involves treatment as well as investigation.
Specialists routinely use local anaesthetics, and sedatives to help you feel drowsy and relaxed. In some cases, the procedure will require an epidural (spinal anaesthetic) or a general anaesthetic, which means you are asleep throughout the procedure.
After an endoscopy
If you’ve been given a sedative or general anaesthetic, you’ll need to rest for at least an hour or two after the procedure. You’ll also need someone to pick you up and take you home then stay with you for the next 24 hours. You won’t be able to work, drive, drink alcohol, care for small children or dependants or operate machinery during this period.
If you didn’t receive a sedative, you’ll be allowed to go home soon after the procedure is finished.
How are you likely to feel after an endoscopy?
You’re likely to feel a certain amount of discomfort after the procedure. If you’ve been sedated or had a general anaesthetic, you might also feel lightheaded or drowsy.
Cystoscopy – small amount of blood in urine is not uncommon. You might feel mild discomfort when passing urine.
Bronchoscopy – numbness in the throat, slight cough, mild sore throat.
Hysteroscopy – possible mild period-like pain, cramping and spotting or bleeding for up to a week.
Gastroscopy – bloating from the introduction of air, numbness, slight cough, mild sore throat.
Colonoscopy – bloating, flatulence from trapped wind, passing a small amount of blood.
Serious side effects are rare but see your doctor immediately if you develop worsening pain, fever or discharge, nausea or vomiting. See your doctor if you have persistent bleeding that is bright red or heavier than a normal period, if your stools are black or tar-like, or if you pass or cough up blood and the amount is larger than a 20-cent coin.
Private or public?
You can choose to be treated publicly or privately.
If you have an endoscopy in the private system, you can choose your own doctor and have greater flexibility over the date of the procedure. If you do choose to be treated privately, ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who participates in our Access Gap Cover scheme.
You can also ask for a list of specialists who may be willing to participate, and don’t be afraid to ask them to use the scheme. That way, you can minimise any out-of-pocket expenses. If you request an open referral you won’t be locked into seeing a specific specialist.
You will also need to check that the specialist you choose operates from a hospital which has an agreement with us.
Talk to us first
Before you confirm anything, check with our Member Care team to see what you’re covered for. This can help avoid any nasty bill surprises. Call 1300 654 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also worth reading up on how to minimise out-of-pocket costs for your hospital trip.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
Health and wellbeing
programs & support
You Belong to More with CBHS Hospital cover:
- Greater choice over your health options including who treats you
- Get care at home with Hospital Substitute Treatment program
- Free health and wellbeing programs to support your health challenges
Live your healthiest, happiest life with CBHS Extras cover:
- Benefits for proactive health checks e.g. bone density tests, eye screenings
- Keep up your care with telehealth and digital options
- Save on dental and optical with CBHS Choice Network providers