What Is an Endoscopy?
Endoscopy is a procedure used to view the inside of a person's body.
An endoscopy makes use of an endoscope, a tool that is a thin tube with a light and camera at the end. Endoscopes vary in length and flexibility depending on the body part that is being viewed.
Endoscopy is used to view different parts of the body:
- Esophagus (esophagoscopy)
- Stomach (gastroscopy, laparoscopy)
- Colon (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, proctoscopy)
- Trachea, windpipe, lungs (bronchoscopy, thoracoscopy)
- Throat/larynx (voice box) (laryngoscopy)
- Urinary tract (cystoscopy)
- Joints (arthroscopy)
- Abdomen: stomach, liver, or other abdominal organs, including female reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes (laparoscopy)
- Anus/rectum (anoscopy, proctoscopy)
- Vagina and cervix (colposcopy)
- Brain (neuroendoscopy)
What Does an Endoscopy Test For?
An endoscopy may be used to diagnose certain conditions and/or their causes, such as:
- To screen for and prevent cancer in the colon
- Changes in bowel habits (chronic constipation or diarrhea)
- Stomach pain
- Bleeding in the digestive tract
- Difficulty swallowing
An endoscopy is also used to provide certain treatments, such as:
- Laparoscopic surgery, performed through small incisions in the skin
- Laser therapy, used to destroy cancer cells with a powerful beam of laser light
- Photodynamic therapy, used to destroy tumors with lasers after injecting it with a light-sensitive substance
- Microwave ablation, which destroys cancerous tissue using heat
- Endoscopic mucosal resection or endoscopic submucosal dissection, a surgical procedure performed using an endoscope in the gastrointestinal tract
- To deliver medication (medication administration)
How Do Doctors Perform an Endoscopy?
An endoscopy procedure is typically done in a hospital or an outpatient center and depending on the specific procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Sedatives, anesthesia, or pain medicine is administered intravenously (IV)
- The patient lies on a table and the doctor inserts an endoscope into the area that needs to be viewed
- The camera on the end of the endoscope sends a video image to a monitor, allowing the doctor to examine the body part
- A biopsy may be performed if abnormal tissue is found
- The endoscope is withdrawn when the procedure is complete
After an endoscopy:
- The patient may need to remain at the hospital or outpatient center for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure to allow any anesthesia to wear off
- Depending on the type of anesthesia used, patients may need to have an arranged ride home because they may not be able to drive immediately following the procedure
What Are Risks and Complications of an Endoscopy?
Complications from endoscopy are uncommon, and may include:
- A hole or tear in the examination area called a perforation
- Cardiac and respiratory problems related to a reaction to the sedative
- Severe abdominal pain