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Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Introduction

With the procedure known as gastrointestinal endoscopy, a doctor is able to see the inside lining of your digestive tract. This examination is performed using an endoscope-a flexible fiberoptic tube with a tiny TV camera at the end. The camera is connected to either an eyepiece for direct viewing or a video screen that displays the images on a color TV. The endoscope not only allows diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) disease but treatment as well.

  • Current endoscopes are derived from a primitive system created in 1806-a tiny tube with a mirror and a wax candle. Although crude, this early instrument allowed a first view into a living body.
  • The GI endoscopy procedure may be performed on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. Through the endoscope, a doctor can evaluate several problems, such as ulcers or muscle spasms. These concerns are not always seen on other imaging tests.
  • Endoscopy has several names, depending on which portion of your digestive tract your doctor seeks to inspect.
    • Colonoscopy: This procedure enables the doctor to see ulcers, inflamed mucous lining of your intestine, abnormal growths and bleeding in your colon, or large bowel.
    • Enteroscopy: Enteroscopy is a recent diagnostic tool that allows a doctor to see your small bowel. The procedure may be used in the following ways:
      • To diagnose and treat hidden GI bleeding
      • To detect the cause for malabsorption
      • To confirm problems of the small bowel seen on an X-ray
      • During surgery, to locate and remove sores with little damage to healthy tissue
  • Doctors do have other diagnostic tests besides GI endoscopy, including echography to study the upper abdomen and a barium enema and other x-ray exams that outline the digestive tract. Doctors can study the stomach juices, stools, and blood to learn about GI functions. But none of these tests offers a direct vision of the mucous lining of the digestive tube.
  • Endoscopy has little value for people with the following conditions:
    • Severe coronary artery disease and acute or recent heart attack
    • Uncontrolled high or low blood pressure
    • Shock
    • Massive upper GI bleeding
    • Acute peritonitis (inflammation of certain tissues in your abdomen)
    • Injuries of the cervical spine
    • Perforation of organs of the upper GI tract
    • A history of respiratory distress
    • Severe coagulopathy, a disease in which you continue bleeding because of inadequate clotting in your blood
    • Recent upper GI tract surgery
    • Long-standing and stable inflammatory bowel diseases (except for watching cancers)
    • Chronic irritable bowel syndrome
    • Acute and self-limiting diarrhea
    • Bloody or tarry stools with a clear source of the bleeding
    • Pregnancy in second or third trimester
    • History of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • Recent colon surgery or past surgery of your abdomen or pelvis resulting in internal adhesions
    • Acute diverticulitis
    • Tear in a blood vessel in your abdomen
    • Sudden colon inflammation
    • Acute inflammation of the sac that lines your abdomen
    • Noncorrectable coagulopathy, a disease in which you continue bleeding due to inadequate clotting factors in your blood
    • Massive gastrointestinal bleeding
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/3/2014
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