How Much Time Does An Endoscopy Take

How Much Time Does An Endoscopy Take?

An endoscopy is a medical procedure used to investigate issues within the digestive system. It involves the use of an endoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light at the end, which is inserted into the mouth or rectum, depending on the specific region being investigated. Endoscopies play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of gastrointestinal issues like ulcers, inflammation, tumors, and bleeding.

The time an endoscopy takes depends on the region being investigated, the complexity of the examination, and the type of sedation used. This article will comprehensively look at how long an endoscopy takes, the factors that influence the time taken, and what to expect during the procedure.

Factors that Affect the Time Taken for an Endoscopy

Different factors may influence the duration of an endoscopy. Here are some of the common factors that impact the length of the procedure.

The Type of Endoscopy

There are several types of endoscopies, and the type performed on the patient will determine how long it will take. Common types of endoscopies include:

  • Gastroscopy: This examines the upper digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. It takes around 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Colonoscopy: This examines the large intestine and rectum. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): This evaluates the bile ducts and the pancreatic duct. It takes around 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Bronchoscopy: This examines the respiratory system through the mouth or nose. It takes about 30 minutes.
  • Cystoscopy: This is used to examine the bladder. The procedure takes around 15 minutes.
  • Hysteroscopy: This examines the uterus. It takes around 20 to 45 minutes.
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Sedation Type

Endoscopies are often performed under sedation, and the type of sedation used will affect the duration of the procedure. Sedation is used to make the patient more relaxed and comfortable during the examination, and it also helps the doctor perform the procedure more efficiently.

There are different types of sedation used during endoscopies, including:

  • Sedation under local anesthesia: This is used to numb the area being examined. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes depending on the area being examined.
  • Conscious sedation: This uses medication to make the patient calm during the procedure. It takes around 30 minutes for a colonoscopy.
  • General anesthesia: This puts the patient to sleep during the procedure. It takes about an hour for most procedures.

The Reason for the Endoscopy

The endoscopy’s purpose will affect the duration of the procedure. If the endoscopy is diagnostic and involves only visualizing the area being examined, it may take less time than a therapeutic endoscopy, which involves treating an issue discovered during the examination. For instance, the doctor may need to remove a polyp, take a biopsy, or stop bleeding. Treatments like these increase the duration of the procedure.

Preparation time

Patients need to prepare their digestive system before an endoscopy, which takes some time. The preparation aims to make the examination easier and more accurate. For instance, patients undergoing a colonoscopy will need to fast for a specific number of hours and take medication to empty their bowels. That means they will need to spend some time cleaning out their gut before the procedure.

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What to Expect During the Endoscopy?

Knowing what to expect during an endoscopy can calm your nerves and drive greater compliance with the procedure.

Before the endoscopy

Before the endoscopy procedure, the doctor will provide instructions on how to prepare. The patient will also receive instructions on how to take medication, what to wear, and when to arrive at the hospital. Patients should avoid eating or drinking anything for the period specified by the doctor before the procedure.

During the procedure

During the endoscopy, the patient will lie down on an examination table. If the procedure involves the upper gastrointestinal tract, the doctor will spray an anesthetic into the back of the patient’s throat to train the gag reflexes. The doctor will then insert the endoscope through the mouth and down into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

If the exam is on the lower gastrointestinal tract, the patient will need to lie on their side. The doctor will insert the endoscope through the rectum and into the colon, and the air will be pumped into the colon to make visualizing the colon possible.

Patients will feel pressure while the endoscope is in place, but they shouldn’t experience pain. If the endoscopy involves sampling or treatment, the doctor may use instruments such as forceps, snares, and lasers to manipulate tissue or remove a biopsy.

After the procedure

After the procedure, the patient will need to take time to rest and fully recover. Patients who were sedated should not drive, operate machinery or have alcohol for up to 24 hours after the procedure or as per the doctor’s instructions. The doctor should provide instructions on what to do if the patient experiences problems like bleeding, infection, stomach pain, or vomiting.

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FAQs About Endoscopy

1. How long does it take to recover from an endoscopy procedure?

Most patients can go home within an hour or so of the endoscopy, but it can take some time to fully recover from the procedure, particularly if sedation was used during the examination. Patients should plan to rest at home for the rest of the day and avoid any form of strain or intense physical activity for the next 24 hours.

2. Are there any complications that can arise during the endoscopy?

Like any medical procedure, endoscopy has some potential risks and complications, although they are rare. Complications may include bleeding, puncture of the intestinal wall, perforation of the organs, and damage to the teeth, throat, or salivary glands.

3. Can patients eat or drink after the procedure?

Patients who were sedated must wait for some time for the sedative to wear off before eating or drinking. The doctor will provide specific instructions about when patients can eat or drink after the procedure.

4. Does an endoscopy involve radiation exposure?

No. Endoscopies do not involve radiation exposure, unlike some other medical imaging procedures like x-rays or CT scans. Endoscopies use a camera that emits light to visualize the internal organs.

5. When should patients seek medical attention after an endoscopy?

Patients should seek medical attention immediately if they experience severe pain, difficult breathing, chest pain, heavy bleeding, fever or chills, persistent vomiting, or difficulty swallowing after an endoscopy.


Endoscopies are a crucial medical procedure in the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The time taken for an endoscopy varies depending on the patient’s condition, the type of endoscopy, the sedation used, and the patient’s preparation time. Patients should follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and seek medical attention if any issues arise after the endoscopy.

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