Possible varices

I'm hoping someone can offer some advise and reassurance please. I had my six monthly appointment with consultant today. He told me my platelets were low and has arranged an endoscopy to check for varices. I have chosen to just have my throat numbed as I don't want to be sedated. I asked him what the outcome would be if I have varices and he said we'll worry about that after the procedure ! He also gave me a fibroscan and just said it was fine.! Should I have asked more ? Is endoscopy really horrible and should I be worried about varices ? Sorry to ask all this but I'm scared especially after what happened to my sister (she had a liver transplant last week after acute liver failure ). Many thanks,in anticipation,for all advise offered.

Sal x

21 Replies

  • Hi Sal, i've heard of a few folk have an endoscopy without sedation - I guess if you can keep yourself calm enough then you might be ok but it is unpleasant because naturally your throat has the gag reflex to prevent anything too large going down it and by nature they will be putting the scope down your throat.

    My hubby has had all his (approaching 20 endoscopies / 42 bands) with sedation, a wee trick he has learned is that when they do the throat spray HOLD YOUR BREATH - if you don't then the act of the spray hitting the back of your throat will automatically trigger your gag reflex. He had a couple of procedures where they couldn't go ahead because his gag reflex was too strong (his consultant has said he has the most sensitive throat in Scotland LOL!).

    You do need the endoscopy to check for varices (sadly it's the only way) and if you have got them then some hospitals start to treat them by banding - my hubby was having endoscopies every 6-8 wees at one point with upto 6 varices banded at a time. His are now 'eradicated' and he's been all clear of varices for two years now. The alternative isn't great - his illness only came to light for the first time in April 2012 when he had a massive upper GI bleed and was hospitalised - we didn't even know he was poorly and it turned out he had cirrhosis and 7 varices had burst.

    My hubby would never have an endoscopy without sedation - he has both the throat spray and sedation and after the less than 5 minute procedure he comes back to the ward to sleep it off (normally released after about 4 hours and after they've made sure you can swallow some food (soft) and drink).

    If you need any further information don't hesitate to ask - we've certainly 'been there, done that and got the t-shirt' as regards banding etc.

    All the best, Katie xx

  • Hi sal

    My husband has had two endoscopies with no sedation. He was fine and actually had to drive a three hour car journey after one of them and was ok. Has a bit of nausea feeling later that Night

  • I've had with and without sedation. My advice would be to go with the sedation. It's not a pleasant procedure but not painful either. It's just that thing about having something forced down your throat.

    I used to be the biggest woos but it's a mind over matter thing. It really helps when you can control that fear, having had a transplant myself and knowing the things they throw at you, it really really helps to not think about it before you go in and then stay calm and almost go into the zone.

  • I totally agree with RodeoJoe mind over matter definately works, just go to another place in your head. I would advise sedation, it doesn't make me tired funnily enough and after 30 mins or so and a cuppa I'm on my way.

  • I agree. I've had them both ways, and without was just miserable! Seriously! Ugh.

    When they found my varacies, they did nothing with them.nthey still haven't because there has been no bleeding. I was put on propanol which is common for this because it helps slow the blood moving throught He veins,so there is less pressure. It they do find nd any bleeders, they may want to band them right there since they have you on the table. That will take longer.

    It's up to you how you have the proceedure, but you will most likely gag, and be counting the seconds till it's over. I tried to pull the tube out.

    I say, don't be a hero. Lol. But you know, whatever your good with.

    Have they said anything about ascites to you? I have that along with the varacies. I get my belly drained for that, but that's a separate issue and proceedure. They do sometimes go hand in hand.

    Good luck !

    Cheering you on!

  • Thanks for your advice,youre always there to help other people,will let you know how I get on,its not till August,t hanks again

    Sal x

  • Hi,

    I've lost count of how many of endoscopies I've had from diagnosis to transplant. Most of them were with sedation and one without as my blood pressure was too low for sedation. They'll tell you that the throat spray tastes like bananas, it does.... Sort of.

    In my opinion they were probably both uncomfortable but with the sedation, you will most likely has amnesia for about 2 hours. They tell me that the effects are similar to the drug Rahypnol in that you are quite compliant then can't remember what happened. When the sedation wears off, many people insist that they were anaesthetised.

    OK, so you'll almost certainly gag but breathe as they tell you to and once the tube goes further in, it's not too bad.

    Please don't be anxious, it's really no worse than a visit to the dentist.

    Mike x

  • I always have sedation too as i have a gag reflex, and who wants to be alert while someone is stuffing a camera down your throat. Also if they do find varicies it might be easier to band them then and there if you were sedated.

    You come out of the sedation quickly and feel totally normal, the only downside (if there is one) is they want someone to be with you for a while after and my hospital says dont travel on public transport to get home, use a car or taxi.

  • Hi,I had endoscopy at very regular intervals, I had a couple of bad incidents resulting from varices, I also had banding done I think I remember at least nine times, I always had the oral spray for the procedures, the worst part they say tastes like bananas, for a nano second, more like cod liver oil capsules.the procedure for me always went very well with minimal discomfort, a lot due to the most excellent staff and care. Went on to develop hepatic encephalitis with a number of very serious incidents, all over many years but thankfully am now recovering because of a most kind and thoughtful donor and there familly and excellent staff in all walks of life at the hospital where my transplant was carried out. I hope this helps a little and sll goes so very well for you and your sister.

  • Hi I have had the camera down and I had slight sedation,no problem it's fine good luck Fina's

  • after a few nasty times i vowed to have a general anesthetic every. time they dont like doing it because of time to recover

  • Wow ain't heard of that! Do they give it to you? 😃

  • normally yes im waiting to hear dr said yes unit say no will see ?

  • We specifically asked this at Edinburgh - even putting the request in writing after hubby had two failed procedures. We were told it was an absolute no, no because they need an anaesthetist, operating theatre space and also their is addtional risk because you have to have an intubation tube down your throat to help you breathe at the same time as them trying to pass an endoscope and then banding tool.

    Sedation practially does the same thing, you shouldn't be totally aware of the procedure and shouldn't remember any of it afterwards.

  • I have tried without sedation once, but had a strong gag reflex, so now always get sedation. After they spray the throat, the sedation kicks in very quickly and I never am aware of anything after that. If there are varices, as someone has already said, they will be easier to band if you are already sedated. It is over and done with fairly quickly, according to my husband, since I never look at how long it takes! As far as I understand it, they keep banding the varices until they are eradicated. I have had them done three times now. Make sure you get some pain relief prescribed, just in case of any after effects. I had terrible trapped wind after the 1st banding, since they do pump air into you to see the varices better, but have not had the same experience since. My hospital does not provide food or drink after endoscopy, so this is not a given. It's a straightforward procedure and once the spray is done, I don't feel a thing. Sedation wears off quickly, but you usually have to stay in after banding. (I think- I really can't remember now!)

    Please try not to think about it too much and I hope it all goes really well for you. Varices are not common as I understand it, my consultant told me I was unlucky. I take a beta blocker to help lower my blood pressure to try and stop further varices forming, so if they do find any, then ask about that. Good luck :)

  • I've had about six endoscopies over the past 10 years since diagnosis of Cryptogenic Cirrhosis. Had banding of several varices initially which has been entirely successful and pain-free. For the endoscopy, I recommend both sedation and throat spray together – I had a very unpleasant experience with poorly administered sedation (arm injection) where nurse went into vein one side and straight out the other side into muscle which went dead for several hours! Having an endoscopy without any sedation or throat spray is a particularly unpleasant experience – since then I've always had sedation into back of hand as well as throat spray. For me, the sedation is like a General Anaesthetic and I 'wake-up' in the recovery area and remember very little of the procedure. The throat spray subdues the gagging reflex and if used alone allows you to leave hospital more quickly and to drive.

    Like most unpleasant events, the first time is the worst and is the most likely to increase anxiety levels, but since the procedure is invariably executed by experienced professionals, you should have little to worry about.

  • Personally, I have had a few of these. The first one I tried with the throat spray and couldn't cope. They put on my hospital "does not tolerate"

    It is my hassle being sedated as you need someone with you to escort you/drive you home and cannot be left alone or drive until the next day. Best of luck though Hun x

  • Hi Sal Don't worry hun, I've had the endoscopy down my throat and I must admit that the fear of having it done was greater than the actual procedure, I had it done about 2 years ago and they found varices in my asophagus, it hasn't changed life in anyway except to make me aware of the need to seek urgent medical attention if I vomit any blood, try and relax when you swallow the camera and it'll all be over in no time and you'll be on your way home within the hour, good luck and don't worry,

    Dave x

  • It's not as bad as people were telling me. Some had me so nervous, not comfortable but has to be done!!!!

  • I want to thank you all for your help and advise,i think I'm worried about what they may find,does having varices means that your condition is worsening ? I seem to be scared of anything going wrong after what happened to my sister . For those who don't know she suffered very acute liver failure and had a transplant last week

    Many thanks again,everyone is very supportive

    Sal x

  • Yes, it can mean your situation is changing. To be honest. Vacancies is one of the things they look for and watch. Speak to your doctor about your concerns.

    I've already replied to you, but let me say..you do sound very concerned and anxious..I really do think you being sedated is best for you. Why make things any harder than they have to be?

    I'm not a doctor, obviously, but I've been through this, like many of us have said, sedation really is the easier way.

    Hugs and let us know how you get on!


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