Endoscopy: Dealing With Procedure Anxiety

Apr 27, 2015

Endoscopies are vital and often life-saving procedures that help to diagnose a variety of diseases and medical conditions. However, many patients do experience anxiety about these procedures, and require some reassurance.

At the London Gastroenterology Centre, we’re medical professionals who specialise in endoscopy in London. As such, we’ll help you to minimise your procedure anxiety by offering some advice as well as giving you vital information about the procedure.

What is an Endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure conducted using an endoscope, which is a long, thin and flexible tube that has a light source and a video camera at one end. This is used to relay internal images back onto a television screen, which can then be observed by a doctor or medical specialist.

Endoscopes are normally inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth or the anus. However, they may also be inserted via a small surgical incision in some cases.

Endoscopes are normally used to observe the oesophagus(gullet), stomach, the beginning and end of the small bowel, colon and lungs, and are a good method for diagnosing a variety of medical conditions and diseases.

A Common, Low Risk Procedure

Endoscopies are common and very low risk, and therefore there’s no need to feel anxious. You will usually only experience slight discomfort, and experiencing endoscopic pain is very rare.

Endoscopies are very safe and do not usually require anaesthetic. Instead, we routinely offer sedation, which induces a ‘twilight state’. You feel sleepy and very relaxed and don’t remember much, if anything, about the procedure when you wake up. You are usually sleepy for around an hour or so. You’ll normally be able to go home within a couple of hours and will need little time to recover from the procedure.

Common Causes of Preoperational Anxiety

There are many causes of preoperational anxiety, and these can vary from person to person. The most common causes of preoperational anxiety are:

  • The unknown
  • Anaesthesia
  • Pain
  • Loss of control
  • Hospital environment

If you can identify precisely what is making you anxious about the procedure, you’ll be able to easily take control of your anxiety.

Remember, you’ll be fully briefed on the procedure beforehand and told what you can expect. Our doctors and highly experienced office staff will explain the tests to you and will give you written information ahead of time so you are fully informed.  If you prefer to be awake, you should not experience any pain (only mild discomfort). This will allow you to be in full control and give you the ability to communicate with medical staff while the procedure is under way. Most people prefer to be made sleepy. We will do whatever you need to make you feel comfortable and relaxed.

If being in hospital environment makes you feel anxious, it may be a good idea for you to investigate having your procedure performed at a private gastroenterology centre, where you will be looked after and staff will be able to cater to your exact needs.


Typically, endoscopies conducted by the NHS are not done with anaesthetic, meaning that patients are fully conscious and aware throughout the procedure.

Although this procedure doesn’t normally cause any pain, it is not particularly pleasant and most people who have the test done privately opt for sedation. If you’re feeling particularly anxious, you can also choose to have a local anaesthetic spray used to numb your throat. This reduces the sensation of the endoscopy even further.

Anxiety Exercises

If you’re still experiencing anxiety, there are exercises you can do to help yourself feel calmer prior to the procedure.

Deep breathing and mindfulness meditation are very effective methods for reducing anxiety, as this will slow your heart rate and rest your mind. Take five to ten minutes out of your day when you’re experiencing anxiety about the procedure to close your eyes and just focus on your breathing. If you struggle doing this unguided, you can download a guided meditation app on your phone.

If your anxiety is particularly intense, discuss it with your consultant. They’ll help you to understand why there’s no need to worry about the procedure, and suggest whether it’s necessary to discuss it with your GP.

We hope you found this information helpful and that you now feel more relaxed about your upcoming procedure. If you require an endoscopy and you’re somewhat nervous about the procedure, visit the London Gastroenterology Centre today. We can offer you a procedure that works around your needs in an environment that specialises in endoscopy. For more information, contact us today by calling 020 7183 7965.

We are available to see patients daily for private consultations

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