An endoscopy is a special test that involves examining the inside of a person's body using an endoscope. This is a special, medical instrument that consists of a long, thin, flexible (or rigid) tube which has a tiny light and video camera attached.
The camera projects images of the inside of your body onto a video screen, where the doctor performing this procedure can both view a certain organ or tissue and can actually perform a number of procedures with very small instruments inserted right through the endoscope.
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic medical procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis.
At Southcoast's Charlton Memorial Hospital, GI endoscopy is performed at our unit on Moran 2 at Charlton Memorial Hospital, which is specially designed and equipped with the latest endoscopic technology. Patients are able to receive all their care in a comfortable and convenient setting.
The instrument that is used to look inside the colon is the colonoscope. The colonoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and a light on the end. A high-quality picture of your intestines is projected onto a TV monitor, and gives a clear, detailed view.
Uses of Colonoscopy
Colonoscopy is an important way to check for colon cancer and to treat colon polyps. Polyps are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the intestine. They vary in size and shape, and while most polyps are not cancerous, some may turn into cancer. Colonoscopy is often used to remove polyps, a simple technique that your gastroenterologist can perform during your colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy is also a safe and effective way to evaluate problems such as:
- Blood loss.
- Abdominal or rectal pain.
- Changes in bowel habits, such as chronic diarrhea.
- Other abnormalities that may have been detected by an earlier test, such as an inflamed colon detected with a CT scan.
As is the case with any medical procedure, be sure to discuss any questions you may have with your doctor.
A gastroenterologist, who is a specialist in gastrointestinal problems, will perform this test using special equipment called an endoscope. This is a thin, fiberopic instrument that will visualize the insides of your upper GI tract and project pictures onto a large video screen.
Why is upper endoscopy done?
Upper endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It's an excellent test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It's also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
Your doctor might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). A biopsy helps your doctor distinguish between benign and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Remember, biopsies are taken for many reasons, and your doctor might order one even if he or she does not suspect cancer. For example, your doctor might use a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori, bacterium that causes ulcers.
Your doctor might also use upper endoscopy to perform a cytology test, where he or she will introduce a small brush to collect cells for analysis.
Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities with little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor might stretch a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding.
What can I expect during upper endoscopy?
Your doctor might start by spraying your throat with a local anesthetic or by giving you a sedative to help you relax. You'll then lie on your side, and your doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn't interfere with your breathing, Most patients consider the test only slightly uncomfortable, and many patients fall asleep during the procedure.
What happens after upper endoscopy?
You will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel bloated because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test. You will be able to eat after you leave unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.
Your doctor generally can tell you your test results on the day of the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take several days.