Penn State Hershey Gastroenterology Endoscopy Unit performs diagnostic and therapeutic studies which include motility studies in addition to endoscopic studies.

Gastrointestinal endoscopy is the examination of the digestive tract with a flexible, lighted instrument called a "scope". This enables the physicians to directly visualize the esophagus, stomach, portions of the small intestine, and the colon. In this way, your physician can more accurately diagnose and treat diseases of the digestive system. Also, through these "scopes" a physician can take biopsies, dilate narrowed areas called strictures, and remove polyps which are growths in the digestive tract. Some of the more common conditions that can be diagnosed and treated are gastro-esophageal reflux, ulcers, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and gallbladder disease.

All procedures are performed by the physicians or trained personnel in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

If you are scheduled for a procedure directly by your primary care physician, the procedure is will be performed by a gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology as a diagnostic study. The results will be mailed or faxed to your Primary Care Physician who ordered the study. You will be informed of the findings, however, the management of your condition and advice on further medication will be determined by your Primary Care Physician who will remain in charge of, and responsible for your care.

Our services include:

PSHMC GI Clinic Appointments:  717-531-1441 

PSHMC General Endoscopy: Fax the Open Access Endoscopy Request Form to 717-531-0263 or call 717-531-8364. 

General questions or contact:  GI academic office at 717-531-5052 

In certain conditions, endoscopy will be performed on an open access basis, when scheduled directly by the Primary Care Physician. When a consultation is required from the gastroenterologist for recommendations for appropriate tests or management, and for any of the exclusion criteria, the patient may be evaluated in an office visit prior to endoscopy.

Open Access Endoscopy is provided to expedite the care of patients when the Primary Care Physician feels that the indication for the procedure is straightforward and the patient does not need an thorough evaluation by the gastroenterologist. The patient must be in stable good health (ASA level I or II). At the time of endoscopy, the attending physician in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology will obtain a brief history and perform a physical examination of the patient in order to determine the medical safety of the procedure and to confirm the indication

A full consultation is not performed for open access endoscopy. A procedure report and interpretation of the findings will be mailed or faxed to the referring physician on the day of the procedure. Any additional reports (such as biopsy and cytology) from specimens obtained during the procedure will be forwarded when available. When referred via the Open Access Endoscopy system, the Primary Care Provider will remain responsible for the patient’s care and for the interpretation of the clinical significance of any findings and for dispensing medical treatment or arranging subsequent referral or treatment. The members of the GI Division will provide advice when it is appropriate based on the abbreviated history obtained, and are available for discussion or consultation.


Exclusion Criteria for Open Access Endoscopic Procedures

In all of the following situations, open access may not be an option and the patient may need to be evaluated by a GI physician in our outpatient clinic. To request a consult and treat appointment in GI outpatient clinic, contact Central Scheduling at 717-531-1441 and fax records to 717-531-4977. 

  • Patients requiring review of complex medical history and advice on appropriateness of endoscopic studies or treatment.
  • Patients requiring advanced therapeutic endoscopic procedures (such as therapeutic endoscopy, e.g pneumatic dilatation, laser, ERCP, endoscopic ultrasound,) stent placement, enteroscopy, PEG or liver biopsy.
  • Patients with complex or unstable medical condition, or patients on anticoagulation.
  • Conditions in which endoscopy is contraindicated include acute or severe diverticulitis, suspected perforation or fulminant colitis.


How to Schedule

  • Fax a completed endoscopy scheduling form to the endoscopy scheduling office. Fax number 717-531-4914.
  • Medications, allergies and other medical conditions must be completed. This will allow us to triage the patient appropriately.
  • The scheduling office will contact you and the patient with the date and time of the scheduled procedure.
  • Pre-certification must be obtained for the endoscopy if needed and forwarded to the endoscopy unit either by adding the authorization number to the request form and re-faxing or by calling the endoscopy scheduling office at 717-531-8364 with the information prior to the appointment.
  • Patients undergoing endoscopy, colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy (if sedation needed) must be accompanied by a driver as they will receive medication for sedation. 
  • Patients undergoing flexible sigmoidoscopy without sedation, esophageal manometry, prolonged pH probe recording or electrogastrography do not need an accompanying driver.

If the patient has questions or needs to cancel or reschedule, they should contact the endoscopy unit at 717-531-8364.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Recent Duodenoscope Concerns

What procedures are affected by the recent alerts?

A duodenoscope, the special type of endoscope at the center of this public concern, is used only for a procedure known as ERCP. Other procedures – including colonoscopy, endoscopy and bronchoscopy procedures – utilize other equipment and are therefore not affected.

Are duodenoscopes safe?

Duodenoscopes used for ERCP procedures save thousands of people each year from life-threatening diseases of the bile duct and pancreas.

When and how are ERCP procedures performed at Penn State Hershey?

ERCP procedures are performed by our experts after weighing the benefits and risks to the patient.

What's the problem?

A part of the scope called "the elevator" can be hard to clean due to having several small moving parts. This can result in very small crevices in the device that, in rare instances, can house bacteria.

How does Penn State Hershey clean its duodenoscopes?

Our institutional policy for cleaning and high-level disinfection of our endoscopes follows all manufacturer recommendations.

What additional steps is Penn State Hershey taking?

Due to recent alerts about resistant bacteria, we are reinforcing these high-level disinfection procedures for staff – and implementing additional safeguards that are not required, such as a double-cleaning step for a specific part of the endoscope in question. Additionally, our infectious disease experts are implementing a monitoring program through which our scopes will be regularly tested for residue and bacteria. These steps are meant to ensure the highest possible standard of safety for Penn State Hershey patients.

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