Atrium Health Navicent Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Single Balloon Enteroscopy

Doctor sitting a a desk and smiling

What Single-Balloon Enteroscopy Offers

A number of gastrointestinal conditions or symptoms may result in a physician recommending a single-balloon enteroscopy for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This nonsurgical procedure allows for the examination of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. By utilizing balloon enteroscopy, the doctor gains deeper access to the small bowel for assessing the condition of the GI tract or even performing a biopsy. Thus, this technique could provide information necessary for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.

What is Involved in the Procedure?

A single-balloon enteroscopy generally involves the use of a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera and light, called an endoscope, which is fitted within a second flexible tubing that has a deflated balloon attached. The methodical inflation and deflation of the balloon will allow for the advancement of the endoscope into the upper or lower GI tract. If the physician needs deeper access into the smaller bowel, then the balloon can be inflated, a position that allows the endoscope to pass through the areas that are more difficult to reach. Depending on the reason for the enteroscopy, the physician performing the procedure may take the opportunity to view the condition of the small bowel, biopsy tissue, or treat a particular issue. Other medical tools, such as probes and forceps, can be channeled through the endoscope to complete certain aspects of the procedure. Sedation is usually administered to keep the patient comfortable throughout the process as well.

Who May Need an Enteroscopy?

A single-balloon enteroscopy may be recommended if other endoscopic test results or scans have indicated the need for a closer look at the small bowel. A reason for further testing is to detect bleeding lesions, strictures, concerning masses, or to investigate the health of the bowel. Some medical conditions or other underlying risk factors can make some patients poor candidates for enteroscopy, however, so it is critical to consider the patient's medical history as well as the current health status. Together, the physician and patient can review the risks and benefits of the procedure and determine if balloon enteroscopy should be part of that particular treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits?

Balloon enteroscopy offers the benefit of avoiding invasive surgery and tends to be more therapeutic than some other techniques, such as capsule endoscopies. In addition to offering diagnostic results, it may be possible to manage the GI condition via the use of endoscopic accessories. Prep and recovery are generally similar to that of other endoscopic tests, and patients will be made aware of such preparatory guidelines, such as avoiding food or drink at least several hours before the procedure is scheduled to begin. Following the enteroscopy, the patient can expect to receive discharge orders and what to do if a concern arises.

The Bottom Line

Enteroscopy can be performed via outpatient services, although some cases may warrant hospital admission. In a good case scenario, the exam may offer an accessible vantage point to improve the patient's GI well-being. Whether the physician is striving to gather necessary information through the results of a biopsy or resolve a GI issue with endoscopic medical tools, the goal of a single-balloon enteroscopy is to play a positive role in a patient's gastrointestinal health.