The cost of endoscopy can depend on what happens during the procedure, the location and any complications or comorbidities that might affect the procedure. In an endoscopy, a surgeon inserts a camera into the body to directly image internal organs and structures such as the colon or lungs. In addition to collecting images, the surgeon might take samples for examination or perform minor surgical procedures. These can all add to the overall cost.
Some examples of different types of endoscopy include colonoscopy, bronchoscopy, arthroscopy and uretroscopy. The location of the test can make a difference in cost, because some locations are more challenging than others or require special training. For example, if a surgeon just needs to look at the upper part of the airways, it can be less expensive than an endoscopy all the way into the stomach.
The location can also determine the level of anesthesia and analgesia that are necessary. Some patients need sedation and a local or regional anesthetic, and others might require a full general anesthesia. The cost of endoscopy can rise significantly with general anesthesia, because this will necessitate monitoring throughout the procedure by an anesthesiologist or nurse-anesthetist. It also is possible that complications might arise, driving up the cost of the procedure even further.
During a procedure, many events can raise the cost of endoscopy. If interventions to address blood pressure instability or other adverse reactions to anesthesia are necessary, these can be expensive. The surgeon might opt to take a sample of suspicious tissue or to simply remove a polyp or strange growth to test it and prevent the need for a repeat procedure. Although the surgeon might be able to predict this ahead of time and can build it into an estimate on the cost of endoscopy, this is not always possible to anticipate, so a patient might get an unpleasant surprise with his or her bill.
If a patient is already in the hospital, this can make the procedure more expensive. Likewise, if a patient has underlying illnesses, these might complicate the cost of endoscopy because they could require special management and attention during the procedure. A patient who is known to have bad reactions to anesthesia, for instance, might need a different anesthetic for safety, and this could be more expensive to administer.
Patients who have concerns about the cost of endoscopy can discuss them with their surgeon. They might want to ask about events that could arise during the procedure and how the doctor will respond. The surgeon might also be able to connect the patient to a payment assistance program that could help cover the costs.