What is an Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a nonsurgical practice used to inspect a person's digestive tract. It involves the insertion of a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera attached to it straight into your body to view an internal organ or tissue in detail. It may also be used to perform other tasks like imaging and minor surgery. Endoscopes are minimally invasive and may be inserted into the openings of your body like the mouth or anus.

On the other hand, they can be inserted into small cuts, for example, in the knee or stomach. Surgery done through a small incision and assisted with special devices, like the endoscope, is known as keyhole surgery.

An upper endoscopy is done to visually observe your upper digestive system with a small camera on the end of a long, thin and flexible tube. A doctor who is specialist in diseases of the digestive system (known as a gastroenterologist) uses endoscopy to make a diagnosis and, at times, to treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, and opening of the small intestine. The procedure is known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

In the same way, endoscopes can be passed into the large intestine or colon through the rectum to observe this area of the intestine. This procedure is known as sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy on the basis of how far up the colon is examined.

A special type of endoscopy known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) provides pictures of the pancreas, gallbladder, and related structures. ERCP can also be used for stent placement and biopsies.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines upper endoscopy and ultrasound test to find images and information regarding various parts of the digestive tract.

Since modern endoscopy has comparatively few risks, provides detailed images, and is fast to carry out, it has proven extremely useful in many areas of medicine.

Why do we need an endoscopy?

Endoscopy lets your doctor to visually examine an organ without making any large incision. A monitor in the operating room allows the doctor to observe exactly what the endoscope sees.

Endoscopy is usually done to:

  • Assist your doctor to decide the cause of any abnormal symptoms you’re having
  • Eliminate a minute sample of tissue that can then be sent to a lab for additional testing; the process is called an endoscopic biopsy
  • Aid your doctor to observe inside the body in a surgical procedure, like repairing a stomach ulcer, or taking away gallstones or tumors

Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy in the symptoms of any of the following conditions:

  • Stomach pain
  • Ulcers and gastritis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unexplained digestive tract bleeding
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Polyps or growths in the colon
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Infections
  • Blood in urine
  • Tumor
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Other digestive tract issues

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, carry out a physical examination and probably recommend some blood tests before an endoscopy. These examinations will help your doctor to get a more accurate understanding of the probable causes of your symptoms. These tests can also help them decide if the problems can be treated with or without endoscopy or surgery.

What are Types of Endoscopy?

Endoscopy may be helpful in a wide range of medical conditions and is useful for investigating various systems within the human body.

The areas and procedures may include:

Gastrointestinal tract:

Esophagus: The procedure is known as Esophagoscopy. To view the esophagus, an esophagoscope is inserted through the mouth.

Stomach and duodenum: A gastroscope is inserted through the mouth to perform gastroscopy.

Small intestine: Enteroscopy is done to view the small intestine.

Large intestine/colon:

Colonoscopy is done to view the entire length of the colon and large intestine. To perform the procedure a colonoscope is inserted through the anus.

Sigmoidoscopy is done to view the bottom part of the colon through sigmoidoscope, which is inserted through the anus.

Bile duct, rectum: Proctoscopy is performed to view the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Anus: Anoscopy is done through an anoscope to evaluate the problems of the anal canal.

Respiratory tract:

Nose: Rhinoscopy is used to examine the entire nasal cavity.

Lower respiratory tract: Bronchoscopy is done to view the windpipe and bronchi of the lungs

Ear: Otoscopy is done to look into the ears.

Urinary tract: Cystoscopy is performed to view the inside of the bladder. A cystoscope is inserted through the urethra.

Female reproductive tract: gyroscope

Cervix: Colposcopy is done to view the vagina and cervix.

Uterus: Hysteroscopy let the doctor look inside the uterus. The process is done through a hysteroscope which is inserted into the vagina to examine the cervix and inside of the uterus.

Fallopian tubes: Falloposcopy is done to inspect the fallopian tube by a micro-endoscope.

Endoscopy Through a small incision:

Abdominal or pelvic cavity: Laparoscopy is done to examine or operate on the interior of the abdominal or pelvic cavities.

Interior of a joint: Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure on a joint to examine or treat the damage through an arthroscope.

Organs of the chest

Thoracoscopy: A procedure that includes internal examination, biopsy within the pleural cavity and thoracic cavity.

Mediastinoscopy is done to see the contents of the mediastinum, generally for the purpose of getting a biopsy.

How to prepare for Endoscopy?

Your doctor will suggest you on how to prepare for an endoscopy, as diverse procedures will have different needs.

Usually, the procedure does not need an overnight stay in the hospital and takes around one hour to complete. For various types of endoscopy, the individual requires to fast for around 12 hours, however, this differs based on the type. In procedures examining the gut, laxatives may be given the night before to clear the system.

Your doctor will perform an examination before the endoscopy. It is important to reveal all present medications and supplements and any previous procedures if any.

Endoscopy Procedure

The procedure will be based on the reason for the endoscopy. There are three main reasons for carrying out an endoscopy:

Investigation: In case, a person is experiencing vomiting, stomach pain, breathing disorders, ulcers, bowel disorders, difficulty swallowing, or gastrointestinal bleeding, an endoscopy can be used to identify the causes of the condition.

Verification of a diagnosis: Endoscopy may be used to execute a biopsy to verify a diagnosis of cancer or any other diseases.

Treatment: An endoscope may be used for the treatment of a disease directly; for example, endoscopy can be done to cauterize a bleeding vessel or take away a polyp.
At times, endoscopy can be combined with another procedure like an ultrasound scan. It may be used to place the ultrasound investigate close to organs that can be difficult to image, like the pancreas.

Advanced endoscopes are occasionally fitted with sensitive lights which use narrow band imaging. This type of imaging uses specific blue and green wavelengths which permit the doctor to spot precancerous conditions easily.

An endoscopy is normally performed while the patient is conscious, though sometimes the patient will be given local anesthetic or often, the patient is sedated.

Endoscopy Recovery

Recovery generally depends on the type of procedure. In an upper endoscopy, which is done to allow your doctor to examine the upper gastrointestinal tract, the patient will be observed for some time after the process, typically around one hour; while a sedative medication wears off.

The individual should not work or drive for the rest of the day, due to the sedative effect of the medication used to avoid the pain.

There may be some soreness, bloating or a sore throat, based on the procedure done, but these usually resolve rapidly.

What are the Risks associated with Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a comparatively safe procedure; however, there are certain risks involved depending on the part that is being examined.

Risks of endoscopy might include:

  • Oversedation, though sedation is not always necessary for the procedure
  • Feeling bloated for a short time after the procedure, which may resolve quickly.
  • Mild cramping
  • Infection of the area of investigation: Infection occurs most commonly when additional procedures are done at the same time. The infections are normally insignificant and can be treated with a course of antibiotics
  • A numb throat for a short period of time due to the use of local anesthetic.
  • Constant pain in the area of the endoscopy
  • Very Rare, but sometimes puncture or tear of the lining of the stomach or esophagus.
  • Internal bleeding, generally insignificant and sometimes treatable by endoscopic cauterization
  • Problems related to preexisting conditions.

You should consult your doctor immediately if you find any of these symptoms:

  • Dark colored stool
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe and constant abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Blood in vomiting

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