Journal of Minimal Access Surgery

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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 201--205

Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo Surgeons COVID-19 endoscopy recommendations

Easwaramoorthy Sundaram1, Kanagavel Manickavasagam2, Ramen Goel2, Khanna Subhash2, Kanagaraj Govindaraj2, Krishna Rau Bhimanakunte2, Satyapriya DeSarkar2, Vijay Borgoankar2, Vipulroy Rathod2,  
1 Department of Minimal Access Surgery, Lotus Hospital, Erode, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo Surgeons, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Easwaramoorthy Sundaram
Department of Minimal Access Surgery, Lotus Hospital, Erode - 638 002, Tamil Nadu


These are recommendations from the Indian Association of Gastro Intestinal Endo Surgeons for safe performance of diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to cite this article:
Sundaram E, Manickavasagam K, Goel R, Subhash K, Govindaraj K, Bhimanakunte KR, DeSarkar S, Borgoankar V, Rathod V. Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo Surgeons COVID-19 endoscopy recommendations.J Min Access Surg 2020;16:201-205

How to cite this URL:
Sundaram E, Manickavasagam K, Goel R, Subhash K, Govindaraj K, Bhimanakunte KR, DeSarkar S, Borgoankar V, Rathod V. Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo Surgeons COVID-19 endoscopy recommendations. J Min Access Surg [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 29 ];16:201-205
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Full Text


COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knee with unimaginable economic, social and health-related issues. While government authorities are making all efforts to flatten the pandemic curve, every endoscopic surgeon should strive to save patients and also safeguard the welfare of fellow health-care professionals (HCPs) by formulating and adhering to strict safety guidelines.

SARS-CoV-2 virus is a highly infectious RNA virus transmitted by droplet infection.[1] We should realise that what we know so far about this dangerous virus is like a drop in the ocean. Hence, we need to be extra vigilant to protect the health of our patients and HCPs. With no possibility of definitive therapy or vaccine in future, we have to adapt strict institution-based infection prevention and control policy.

Basic and advanced endoscopic training programs are one of the key areas of academic activities by Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo Surgeons. Hence, it is our responsibility and need of the hour to formulate recommendations for the benefit of all practicing endoscopic surgeons. It is essentially based on opinion from experts and limited literature evidence. For ease of understanding and application, we have indicated the strength of recommendation and quality of literature evidence wherever it is possible.[2]

We should realise that these recommendations are time sensitive and are bound to change in case of additional evidence appearing in the near future with regard to investigation and management of COVID-19 infection.


1.Advice on performing elective endoscopy


Endoscopy is a high-level aerosol-producing procedure akin to endotracheal intubation. Due to proximity of the patient, infection could also spread by touch or conjunctival contamination. It is also possible to have faecal transmission during colonoscopy.

Elective cases are those where delaying an endoscopic procedure for 4–6 weeks is unlikely affect the final outcome. Evaluations of chronic anaemia, dyspepsia and achalasia are some examples. Most of the screening and surveillance endoscopic procedures could also be deferred for some time.

2.Advice on emergency and urgent endoscopy cases


Emergency cases are defined as those needing endoscopic procedure within 24 h. Acute gastrointestinal bleeding and severe cholangitis with organ dysfunction are some classical examples.

Urgent cases are those requiring endoscopic procedure within 30 days. Otherwise, there is a likelihood of worsening of symptoms or progression of disease leading to poor outcome. Infected pancreatic fluid collection and obstructing left colon tumour are some common examples.

We have listed the course of action for various common clinical situations whether to perform the endoscopic procedure or postpone. All endoscopic surgeons should consider them as broad-based guidelines and hence advised to use his/her clinical discretion to make a definitive plan depending on the risk profile of individual patient [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3].{Table 1}{Table 2}{Table 3}

3.Review of routine and non-urgent cases in endoscopy outpatient unit


We should also prevent unnecessary review of non-urgent cases to mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 infection. In view of difficulty faced by the patients not able to receive medical attention and advice, the Medical Council of India has recently come out with guidelines to allow doctors for tele-consultation.[3]

4.Health advice for patients at endoscopy outpatient department[4]


We should manage the appointments in such a way to avoid crowding in the waiting room. It is clearly shown that the chance of droplet infection could be significantly minimised if both the patients and all HCPs wear the masks and adhere to rigorous hand hygiene and social distancing.

5.Advice on personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals[5],[6],[7,[8]


Various types of masks are described namely 3-ply surgical masks, N95 masks and powered purified air respirators. N95 mask ensures filtering of up to 95% of aerosol particles of >0.3 μ and widely recommended in several clinical situations. 3M P100 filter with high efficiency particulate air -grade 99% filter can also be useful.

PPE should be composed of hairnet, goggles, N95 masks, coverall, leggings, double gloves and protective face shield. We should look into the composition of each PPE and make sure that they are made up of good-quality non-woven and fluid-resistant material. Every HCP should learn proper donning and doffing method of PPE and also safe disposal of them.[6],[7],[8]

6.Management strategy for patients undergoing endoscopy[9]


Every patient waiting for endoscopy should be evaluated for any COVID-19-related symptoms, recent travel history and contact history with any family members or next-door neighbours diagnosed as COVID-19-positive cases. Accordingly, the patient is classified as low- and high-risk category. We should also realise that a significant percentage of patients remain asymptomatic in spite of COVID-19 infection. Before performing any endoscopic procedure, we should ideally carry out COVID-19 tests and plan accordingly. Hence, we should perform RT-PCR to know the infection status or consider doing rapid serology test to know the immune status prior to any endoscopic procedure. Till we get clear guidelines and facility to perform these tests, we should presume every patient as a COVID-19 suspect and manage accordingly. We should refer high-risk category patients and COVID-19-positive patients to COVID-19-designated hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

7.Importance of COVID-19 endoscopy consent form[10]


In addition to the standard endoscopic consent form, we should also include the following points in the disclosure in view of COVID-19 pandemic, namely:Understands the urgency of endoscopic treatment essential for his/her own health benefitUnderstands about all efforts taken by the hospital authority to prevent any COVID-19 or other infection to the patient while admitted in the hospitalThe patient should be explained about the additional cost to be incurred during COVID-19 era endoscopy (PPE, GA, disinfection, turnaround delays, etc.)Information about the enhanced risk prior, during or after the procedure to get COVID-19 infection and also higher-than-usual risk of complications following any endoscopic therapy should be clearly explained to the patient prior to the procedureThe patient should understand and agree that hospital/HCP will not be held responsible for any COVID-19 infection acquired by the patient.

A model consent form for endoscopy is given in [Table 4].{Table 4}

8.Advice on endoscopy under anaesthesia[11]


All endoscopic procedures are high-level, aerosol-producing procedures with considerable risk of infection for every HCP. Hence, we should adopt a universal policy of GA for all cases, to reduce aerosol generation or retching. In addition to N95 mask and PPE, the healthcare team should also consider using a large plastic hood/sheet to cover the head end of the patient to avoid droplet infection during intubation. Endoscopy team should enter the room 15 min after induction of GA. The team should be comprised of an experienced endoscopic surgeon along with minimum number of knowledgeable HCP. We should avoid any trainee performing such emergency procedure to prevent undue delay. We should adhere to COVID-19 biomedical waste disposal protocol.

9.Cleaning and disinfection of endoscopy and endoscopy room during COVID-19 era[12],[13],[14]


COVID-19 virus could be easily and effectively eliminated with our regular disinfection protocol. However, we should ensure that the HCP wears PPE during washing and disinfecting the endoscopic equipment. Automatic machine disinfection is preferable than manual disinfection. Dilute chlorine solution should be used to clean the endoscopy room, instrument cart, table and anaesthetic machine. A minimum interval of 30 min between the cases is needed to minimise the risk of aerosol infection.

10.Statement on follow-up of endoscopy patients and health status of healthcare professionals[15]


All the patients following endoscopic procedures should preferably be contacted by phone on day 7 and day 14 to ask for any COVID-19 symptoms or any other health issues. We should also routinely monitor the health of every HCP asking for any fever and other COVID-19 symptoms and take their temperature regularly. HCPs should go for self-quarantine in case of any doubt and seek immediate advice regarding COVID-19 testing.

By adapting the above-mentioned recommendations in our endoscopy practice during this COVID-19 era, we should be able to manage our patients well and also safeguard the health status of our staffs. We should be able to confront and conquer this COVID-19 crisis with compassion and common sense.

#Together we can.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



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