FAQ

  • Colonoscopy
    What is Colonoscopy?

    Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a trained specialist uses a long, flexible, narrow tube with a light and tiny camera on one end, called a colonoscope or scope, to look inside your rectum and colon. Colonoscopy can show irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, polyps, and cancer.​

    27 Insider Tips and Tricks for Colonoscopy Prep
    Learn more about Colonoscopy from the NIDDK.
  • Upper Endoscopy (EGD)
    What is upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy?

    Upper GI endoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses an endoscope—a long, flexible tube with a camera—to see the lining of your upper GI tract. A gastroenterologist, surgeon, or other trained health care provider performs the procedure, most often while you receive light sedation. Your doctor may also call the procedure an EGD or esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

    Learn more about Upper Endoscopy from the NIDDK.
  • ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)
    What ERCP?

    Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a procedure that combines upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and x rays to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. ERCP is also used to diagnose problems, but the availability of non-invasive tests such as magnetic resonance cholangiography has allowed ERCP to be used primarily for cases in which it is expected that treatment will be delivered during the procedure.

    Learn more about ERCP from the NIDDK.
  • Liver Biopsy
    What is a liver biopsy?

    A liver biopsy is a procedure that involves taking a small piece of liver tissue for examination with a microscope for signs of damage or disease. The three types of liver biopsy are the following:

    • --Percutaneous biopsy—the most common type of liver biopsy—involves inserting a hollow needle through the abdomen into the liver. The abdomen is the area between the chest and hips.
    • --Transvenous biopsy involves making a small incision in the neck and inserting a needle through a hollow tube called a sheath through the jugular vein to the liver.
    • --Laparoscopic biopsy involves inserting a laparoscope, a thin tube with a tiny video camera attached, through a small incision to look inside the body to view the surface of organs. The health care provider will insert a needle through a plastic, tubelike instrument called a cannula to remove the liver tissue sample.
    Learn more about Liver Biopsy from the NIDDK.
  • Wireless Capsule Endoscopy
    What is Wireless Capsule Endoscopy?

    An ingestible capsule device equipped with a miniature video camera to visualize the small intestine (PillCam SB) or esophagus (PillCam ESO).

    How does PillCam SB capsule endoscopy work?

    The smooth plastic capsule contains a miniature video camera and is equipped with a light source on one end, batteries, a radio transmitter and antenna. After it is swallowed, the PillCam SB capsule transmits approximately 50,000 images (about 2 images per second) over the course of the study, which typically takes eight hours, to a data-recording device worn by the patient. The small bowel images are then downloaded to a computer for physician review and diagnosis.

    How does PillCam ESO capsule endoscopy work?

    During the 30-minute procedure, the PillCam ESO video capsule transmits 18 images per second to a data-recording device worn by the patient. The images are then downloaded to a computer for physician review and diagnosis.

    How does the patient prepare for PillCam capsule endoscopy of the small bowel?

    TA patient fasts for 10 hours prior to the procedure, then swallows the PillCam SB video capsule with a glass of water. Images and data are acquired as the PillCam SB capsule passes through the digestive system over the course of the study, typically an 8-hour period. This information is transmitted to the portable DataRecorder worn by the patient. After swallowing the capsule, the patient can continue with typical daily activities. After eight hours the patient returns to the physician’s office with the DataRecorder so the images can be downloaded and a diagnosis can be made.

    How does the patient prepare for PillCam capsule endoscopy of the esophagus?

    A patient will fast for at least two hours before swallowing the PillCam ESO video capsule. The capsule is easily swallowed with water while the patient lies on his/her right side wearing a portable DataRecorder. After swallowing the capsule, the patient drinks a sip of water every 30 seconds over a seven-minute ingestion period.

    How long is the PillCam SB procedure?

    Typically the procedure takes eight hours.

    How long is the PillCam ESO procedure?

    Typically the procedure takes 30 minutes.

    How long is the recovery time after swallowing the PillCam video capsule?

    PillCam capsule endoscopy requires no preparation or sedation, and no recovery is required.

    How is the PillCam video capsule removed from the body?

    Both the PillCam SB and PillCam ESO disposable capsules make their way through the rest of the gastrointestinal tract and then are passed naturally and painlessly from the body, usually within 24-72 hours.

    What is the size of the capsule?

    Both PillCam SB and ESO video capsules are 11 mm x 26 mm and weigh less than 4 grams.

    Is PillCam capsule endoscopy reimbursed by Medicare and private insurance payers?

    Yes. Capsule endoscopy with PillCam SB video capsule is widely covered in the U.S. A permanent CPT® Code for capsule endoscopy with PillCam ESO was assigned by the American Medical Association and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, effective January 1, 2007.

    What are the traditional diagnostic and detection methods for the small bowel?

    Endoscopy and radiological imaging have been the traditional methods for small bowel diagnostics. In endoscopy, the physician inserts an endoscope, a flexible tube and optical system approximately 3.5 feet long through the patient's mouth or anus. Typically, this procedure will include sedation and recovery time. During a radiological imaging examination, the patient swallows a contrast medium (such as barium) or a dense liquid that coats the internal organs to make them appear on xray film. The procedure produces a series of black and white x-ray images of the lumen, or cavity, of the small intestine.

    What is traditional upper endoscopy?

    A doctor uses an endoscope, a long, thin, lighted flexible tube with a small camera on the end. The endoscope is inserted through the patient’s mouth and into the esophagus. Although the patient is awake during the procedure, doctors administer sedatives intravenously, and spray numbing agents into the patient’s throat to prevent gagging. Recovery time is one to two hours until the effects of the sedatives wear off, and the patient’s throat may be sore for up to two days.

    How long is the PillCam SB procedure? How does PillCam capsule endoscopy compare to traditional endoscopic procedures?

    Both the PillCam SB and ESO procedures do not require sedation and can be administered in a doctor’s office. Studies have shown patients undergoing either PillCam procedure have a higher level of satisfaction due to procedural convenience and comfort and immediate recovery.

    Is PillCam capsule endoscopy a good solution for everyone?

    No, PillCam capsule endoscopy is not for everyone. Risks include capsule retention, aspiration, or skin irritation. The risks of the Agile™ GI patency test include capsule retention and aspiration. Endoscopic placement may present additional risks. Medical, endoscopic, or surgical intervention may be necessary to address any of these complications, should they occur. Please consult your physician or refer to Given Imaging for detailed information.

    Learn more about Wireless Capsule Endoscopy from the NIDDK.
  • Infrared Coagulation of Hemorrhoids
    What is Infrared Coagulation?

    Since its introduction 20 years ago, infrared coagulation (IRC) has become the world’s leading office treatment for hemorrhoids. This non-surgical treatment is fast, well tolerated, and remarkably complication-free. A small probe is placed above the hemorrhoid and a few short bursts of infrared light are applied. The infrared light quickly coagulates the vessels that provide the hemorrhoid with blood, causing the hemorrhoids to shrink and recede. Shrinkage of the hemorrhoidal tissues may take a few weeks.

    What are Hemorrhoids and who gets them?

    Hemorrhoids are swelling in the rectum or anal area that may protrude through the anus on straining. They usually contain enlarged veins and are most common in people over the age of 50.

    Does the Procedure Hurt?

    While patient sensitivity may vary, most patients report feeling a brief sensation of heat, but not acute pain. Local anesthesia is usually not required.

    Are there any after-effects?

    Typically, there are no post-treatment effects. Most patients return to a normal lifestyle the same day. There may be slight spot bleeding a few days later. Heavy straining or lifting should be avoided and aspirin should not be taken for a few days.

    How many visits are required?

    Only your doctor can make that determination. The number of treatments will depend on the severity of symptoms, location of the hemorrhoids, and the patient’s individual response to the procedure.

    Will the hemorrhoids come back?

    Millions of patients have been treated with IRC. Experience tells us that hemorrhoids treated with IRC generally do not reoccur. A sensible diet, moderate exercise, and proper bowel habits will also help.

  • Acid Reflux Disease - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
    What is GER?

    Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus. Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion.

    Learn more about GER from the NIDDK.
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease
    What is a peptic ulcer?

    A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum. Rarely, a peptic ulcer may develop just above your stomach in your esophagus. Doctors call this type of peptic ulcer an esophageal ulcer.

    Learn more about Peptic Ulcer Disease from the NIDDK.
  • Gallstones
    What are gallstones?

    Gallstones are hard particles that develop in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located in the upper right abdomen—the area between the chest and hips—below the liver. Gallstones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. The gallbladder can develop a single large gallstone, hundreds of tiny stones, or both small and large stones. Gallstones can cause sudden pain in the upper right abdomen. This pain, called a gallbladder attack or biliary colic, occurs when gallstones block the ducts of the biliary tract.

    Learn more about Gallstones from the NIDDK.
  • Hepatitis
    What is hepatitis?

    Hepatitis is a virus, or infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver. Viruses can cause sickness. For example, the flu is caused by a virus. People can pass viruses to each other. Inflammation is swelling that occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can cause organs to not work properly.

  • Pancreatitis
    What is pancreatitis?

    Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum—the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with bile—a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder—to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

    Normally, digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas do not become active until they reach the small intestine. But when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

    Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur. The gallbladder and the ducts that carry bile and other digestive enzymes from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas to the small intestine are called the biliary system. Both forms of pancreatitis occur more often in men than women.

    Learn more about Pancreatitis from the NIDDK.
  • Gastrointestinal Bleeding
    What is bleeding in the digestive tract?

    Bleeding in the digestive tract is any type of bleeding that starts in the digestive tract. Bleeding in the digestive tract is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Health care providers describe two types of bleeding:

    • --acute bleeding—sudden and sometimes severe bleeding
    • --chronic bleeding—slight bleeding that lasts for a long time or may come and go
    Learn more about Gastrointestinal Bleeding from the NIDDK.
  • Colon Polyps
    What are colon polyps?

    Colon polyps are growths on the lining of your colon and rectum. You can have more than one colon polyp.

    Learn more about Colon Polyps from the NIDDK.
  • Colon Cancer
    What is colon cancer?

    Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum. Colon cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is highly successful.

    Learn more about Colon Cancer from the Colon Cancer Alliance.
  • Crohn's Disease
    What is Crohn's disease?

    Crohn's disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Most commonly, Crohn's affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. However, the disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the GI tract, called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis are the other common IBDs. Read more in Ulcerative Colitis and Microscopic Colitis: Collagenous Colitis and Lymphocytic Colitis.

    Crohn's disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Most people have periods of remission—times when symptoms disappear—that can last for weeks or years. Some people with Crohn's disease receive care from a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.

    Learn more about Crohn's Disease from the NIDDK.
  • Ulcerative Colitis
    What is ulcerative colitis?

    Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—and sores called ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn's disease and microscopic colitis are the other common IBDs. Read more in Crohn's Disease and Microscopic Colitis: Collagenous Colitis and Lymphocytic Colitis.

    Ulcerative colitis most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Symptoms can be mild to severe. Most people have periods of remission—times when symptoms disappear—that can last for weeks or years. The goal of care is to keep people in remission long term. Most people with ulcerative colitis receive care from a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.

    Learn more about Ulcerative Colitis from the NIDDK.
  • Diverticular Disease
    What is diverticular disease?

    Diverticular disease is a condition that occurs when a person has problems from small pouches, or sacs, that have formed and pushed outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. The colon is part of the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid form. Diverticula are most common in the lower part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. The problems that occur with diverticular disease include diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding. Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula become inflamed, or irritated and swollen, and infected. Diverticular bleeding occurs when a small blood vessel within the wall of a diverticulum bursts.

    Learn more about Diverticular Disease from the NIDDK.
  • Celiac Disease
    What is celiac disease?

    Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten may also be used in products such as vitamin and nutrient supplements, lip balms, and some medicines. Other names for celiac disease are celiac sprue and gluten intolerance.

    Your body’s natural defense system, called the immune system, keeps you healthy by fighting against things that can make you sick, such as bacteria and viruses. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body’s immune system reacts to the gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. The immune system’s reaction to gluten damages small, fingerlike growths called villi. When the villi are damaged, the body cannot get the nutrients it needs. Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning it runs in families. Adults and children can have celiac disease. As many as 2 million Americans may have celiac disease, but most don’t know it.

    Learn more about Celiac Disease from the NIDDK.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    What is IBS?

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms—including pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movement patterns—that occur together. Doctors call IBS a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders happen when your GI tract behaves in an abnormal way without evidence of damage due to a disease.

    Learn more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome from the NIDDK.
  • Hemorrhoids
    What are hemorrhoids?

    Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum. The rectum is the last part of the large intestine leading to the anus. The anus is the opening at the end of the digestive tract where bowel contents leave the body. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids develop in the lower rectum. Internal hemorrhoids may protrude, or prolapse, through the anus. Most prolapsed hemorrhoids shrink back inside the rectum on their own. Severely prolapsed hemorrhoids may protrude permanently and require treatment.

    Learn more about Hemorrhoids from the NIDDK.

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