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What to Know About Esophagoscopy

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 01, 2021

‌The esophagus is the tube that connects your throat and stomach. Esophagoscopy is a medical procedure that allows your doctor to look inside your esophagus. This procedure helps your doctor diagnose conditions that affect your esophagus. It is done using an endoscope or esophagoscope, which is a thin tube with an attached light and camera.

Why Is Esophagoscopy Done?

‌Esophagoscopy is a procedure done to investigate conditions affecting the stomach, intestine, and throat. The process also helps with the following: ‌

  • Observing the upper gastrointestinal tract during surgery
  • Taking tissue samples for testing 
  • Unblocking food or any object stuck in the esophagus

Types of Esophagoscopy

‌There are several types of esophagoscopy procedures.

  • Transnasal esophagoscopy. It is the least intrusive procedure and does not require anesthesia. The endoscope goes through the nose to the back of the esophagus. This procedure is efficient for diagnosis, not surgery. 
  • Flexible esophagoscopy. Here, thin, elastic fibers are run through the endoscope to shine light in the gut. The fibers are also connected to a monitor to see the captured images.
  • Rigid esophagoscopy. This procedure uses a narrow tube with lenses, light, and an eyepiece. It goes through the mouth to the esophagus. The method can be used to perform minor surgical procedures. 

Doctors can recommend an esophagoscopy procedure if you are going through any of these symptoms:‌

  • Persistent heartburn or acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD
  • Barrett's esophagus, which develops when the normal esophagus tissues get replaced with intestinal tissues
  • Swollen veins in the esophagus
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Constantly feeling that something is stuck in your throat
  • Abnormal tissue growth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain 

Potential Complications of an Esophagoscopy

‌Esophagoscopy is a safe procedure, often with little to no complications. But complications and risks may occur in any medical procedure. These are some risks you may face during an esophagoscopy:‌

  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Air getting trapped under your skin
  • Allergic reaction to anesthetics 
  • Esophageal tear
  • Throat discomfort

Minimizing the Risk of Complications

‌Complications can be easily managed by following these steps:‌

  • Alert your doctor if you have any discomfort or persistent pain.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything before the process.
  • Follow the dietary and lifestyle restrictions advised after the procedure.
  • Ensure that your doctor knows of your allergies.
  • Inform your doctor about any medication or supplements you might have taken.

What to Expect During an Esophagoscopy

‌The first thing to do is to lie on your side on the table. You may be given a sedative, depending on the type of procedure used. 

Your doctor will carefully push the esophagoscope or endoscope into your esophagus. The esophagoscope pumps air during the process to enlarge its passage. It allows close examination of the tract. 

During the process, the doctor might take tissue or cell samples for a biopsy. Doctors may also use this procedure to stop bleeding. 

The procedure may take less than an hour. It is normal for doctors to combine the process with other tests such as an ultrasound

Benefits of Esophagoscopy

‌You may get nervous about going for an esophagoscopy, which is normal. Luckily, it is a short procedure that is usually done within 24 hours after you experience symptoms. 

There is no specific guideline or age requirement on when to go through this procedure. It can be done at any time if necessary and has tremendous benefits.

Early detection of cancer. Esophagoscopy is helpful in the early detection of developing cancer cells. Doctors can also use it to collect tissue samples for biopsy. It is especially helpful in diagnosing Barrett's esophagus, a condition that can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

Diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal problems. The procedure helps in the early discovery of defects in the upper gastrointestinal tract. With an immediate diagnosis, doctors have better chances of selecting an appropriate treatment process for the patient.‌‌

Unblocking of the esophagus. Children often swallow harmful foreign objects when left unsupervised. If this happens, a simple esophagoscopy can determine what type of object they have consumed. Doctors can unblock the esophagus without conducting surgical procedures.

Show Sources

‌SOURCES:

‌Baylor College of Medicine: "Endoscopy: How does it work and what are the benefits?"

Endoscopy: "The benefits of endoscopy in upper gastrointestinal bleeding."

International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology: "Transnasal Esophagoscopy—Our Experience." 

‌Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital: "Esophagoscopy."

‌National Cancer Institute: "Esophagoscopy." 

‌National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Upper GI Endoscopy." 

‌Stanford Medicine: "Esophagoscopy." 

‌‌The Journal of Trauma: "Flexible esophagoscopy as a diagnostic tool for traumatic esophageal injuries."

‌‌World Journal of Clinical Cases: "Rigid esophagoscopy combined with angle endoscopy for treatment of superior mediastinal foreign bodies penetrating the esophagus caused by neck trauma: A case report."

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