A thin, flexible tube (endoscope) is inserted through the mouth and into the upper gastrointestinal tract. During a double-balloon enteroscopy, balloons attached to the endoscope can be inflated to allow the doctor to view a section of the small intestine.
In a colonoscopy, a flexible tube is inserted through your rectum and colon. The tube can most often reach into the end part of the small intestine (ileum).
Tissue samples removed during enteroscopy are sent to the lab for examination.
How to Prepare for the Test
Do not take products containing aspirin for 1 week before the procedure. Tell your doctor if you take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix), because these may interfere with the test. Do NOT stop taking any medication unless told to do so by your health care provider.
Do not eat any solid foods or milk products after midnight the day of your procedure. You may have clear liquids until 4 hours before your exam.
You must sign a consent form.
How the Test will Feel
You will be given calming medicine for the procedure and will not feel any discomfort. You may have some bloating or cramping when you wake up. This is from air that is pumped into the abdomen to expand the area during the procedure.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is most often performed to help diagnose diseases of the small intestines. It may be done if you have:
Abnormal x-ray results
Tumors in the small intestines
Unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding
In a normal test result, the health care provider will not find sources of bleeding in the small bowel, and will not find any tumors or other abnormal tissue.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Signs may include:
Abnormalities of the tissue lining the small intestine (mucosa) or the tiny, finger-like projections on the surface of the small intestine (villi)
Abnormal lengthening of blood vessels (angiectasis) in the intestinal lining
Sidhu R, Sanders DS, Morris AJ, McAlindon ME. Guidelines on small bowel enteroscopy and capsule endoscopy in adults. Gut. 2008;57:125-136.
Todd Eisner, MD, Private practice specializing in Gastroenterology, Boca Raton, FL. Affiliate Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.