Enteroscopy

Overview

What is an enteroscopy?

An enteroscopy is a nonsurgical procedure to examine the lining of your small intestine (small bowel). It can help your healthcare provider diagnose certain conditions without cutting into your belly (abdomen).

What’s the difference between an enteroscopy and an endoscopy?

Your healthcare provider can use an enteroscopy to view your entire small intestine, which lies between your stomach and your large intestine. An endoscopy views the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract (esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine).

An endoscopy uses an endoscope, a tube with a light and camera on the end. But for an enteroscopy, the tool is also equipped with something to advance it deeper into your intestine.

When is an enteroscopy performed?

Your healthcare providers may order an enteroscopy if they need to examine your small intestine lining. This may be necessary if you have:

Healthcare providers also can use the procedure to:

  • Get samples of tissue from your small bowel for biopsy.
  • Remove a polyp, mass or foreign object.
  • Seal (cauterize) a bleeding lesion on your small intestine lining.
  • Stretch open an abnormally tight space in your bowel.

What are the different kinds of enteroscopy?

There are several types of enteroscopies. One difference involves where the procedure starts:

  • Lower enteroscopy: The tool is inserted through your anus into your rectum and advanced upward.
  • Upper enteroscopy: The tool is inserted through your mouth into your throat and advanced downward.

Another difference is the way the tool advances through your small intestine:

  • Double balloon: With a double balloon enteroscopy, the endoscope is equipped with two tiny balloons. The balloons inflate and deflate alternately to advance the tool. It’s also called a push-and-pull enteroscopy.
  • Single balloon: This technique uses a small balloon at the end of the endoscope to push the tool along. It’s also called a push enteroscopy.
  • Spiral overtube: This technique uses a spiral contraption that rotates at the end of the endoscope to move the tool along.

Who performs an enteroscopy?

Physicians who specialize in the digestive system (gastroenterologists) perform enteroscopies.

Is an enteroscopy the same as EGD?

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and upper enteroscopy are similar but not the same. For both, the endoscope is inserted through your mouth. EGD is used to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine. An enteroscopy is used to view your entire small intestine.

Test Details

Do you need bowel prep for an enteroscopy procedure?

For lower enteroscopy, you’ll probably have to do bowel prep, also called bowel cleansing. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions.

For upper enteroscopy, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything for several hours before the procedure. Your healthcare provider will explain the details.

For either procedure, you may need to stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin and blood thinners.

How long does an enteroscopy take?

An enteroscopy procedure usually takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours.

What can I expect during an enteroscopy?

During an enteroscopy procedure, your healthcare provider will:

  1. Give you anesthesia to put you to sleep or give you sedation to help you relax.
  2. Numb your throat if the tool will be inserted through your mouth and down your throat.
  3. Insert the endoscope through your mouth or rectum. Then, they'll slowly advance it.
  4. Project video from the tool onto a screen.
  5. Record images and videos as needed to view them later.
  6. Take any steps they decide are medically necessary. Examples may include removing an object, opening a narrowed passageway or taking tissue for a biopsy. These added steps shouldn't cause pain.

What can I expect after an enteroscopy?

Enteroscopy is an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the same day. But you will need someone else to drive you home because you’ll be groggy from the anesthesia or sedation.

After the procedure, you may have some mild side effects, such as:

  • Feeling of fullness or bloating in your belly (abdomen).
  • Mild abdominal cramps.
  • Minor bleeding.
  • Nausea.
  • Sore throat.

What are the risks of an enteroscopy?

Enteroscopy procedures are generally safe, but there's a small risk of:

  • Complications from anesthesia.
  • Paralytic ileus.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Perforations or tears in the tissue where the tool passed through.

Results and Follow-Up

When should I know the results of the enteroscopy test?

Your healthcare provider will schedule a follow-up appointment or call you with the results. This may be the same day or a day or two after the test. They’ll explain what they saw and recommend next steps.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

After an enteroscopy, seek medical attention immediately if you experience any signs of a complication:

  • Blood in your poop (stool) that looks like more than a few tablespoons.
  • Fever.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Stomach that feels swollen or abnormally hard.
  • Vomiting.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

An enteroscopy is a procedure healthcare providers use to look inside your small intestine. They may also be able to treat certain gastrointestinal problems. There are different types of enteroscopies, including upper (through your mouth and throat) and lower (through your anus and rectum). Your healthcare provider will help you understand what to expect.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/18/2022.

References

  • American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Balloon Assisted or “Deep” Enteroscopy. (https://www.asge.org/home/about-asge/newsroom/media-backgrounders-detail/balloon-assisted-enteroscopy) Accessed 5/18/2022.
  • Cooley DM, Walker AJ, Gopal DV. From Capsule Endoscopy to Balloon-Assisted Deep Enteroscopy: Exploring Small-Bowel Endoscopic Imaging. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836584/) Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2015;11(3):143-154. Accessed 5/18/2022.
  • Teshima CW, May G. Small bowel enteroscopy. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3352842/) Can J Gastroenterol. 2012;26(5):269-275. Accessed 5/18/2022.

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