Endoscopy is an essential and very commonly used procedure for the evaluation of a multitude of gastrointestinal symptoms. Although it is increasingly required, patients often wait on arrival at the endoscopy unit until they are called for the procedure. It is not clear whether or not this waiting time may have an impact on patient's tolerance during upper endoscopy. Our study attempts to address this.
We studied consecutive outpatients who underwent endoscopy from September to December, 2013. Gender, age, body mass index (BMI), previous endoscopic experiences, antidepressant therapy, and the time interval between arrival at the endoscopy unit and the onset of examination was recorded. Anxiety before the procedure, pain, and discomfort were rated by a numeric rating scale (0 = no pain/discomfort encountered to 10 = extremely painful/uncomfortable).
One hundred and five consecutive outpatients (male = 52; mean age = 45.3 years; age range = 20–86 years) were included in the study. The mean BMI was 25 ± 4.8; mean waiting time from registration to the procedure was 172 min (time range = 30 - 375 mins). Mean patients' pre-examination anxiety level was 3 ± 3.84, mean discomfort score was 4.3 ± 3.09 and mean pain score was 3.4 ± 3.03. The level of pain and discomfort was significantly higher in patients with higher levels of pre-procedure anxiety. No differences were found in terms of anxiety, pain and discomfort among patients divided according to waiting time.
According to our data, waiting time does not have a significant impact on the perception of pain and discomfort related to the endoscopic procedure. On the other hand, high pre-procedural levels of anxiety were associated with a low tolerance. Further multicenter randomized trials are needed to clarify the impact of waiting time.