Endoscopy

Several types of endoscopy procedures are used in digestive disease

Endoscope
An endoscope is used for different procedures. There are several different types of endoscopes, each with a specific purpose. Image © Dave King / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Endoscopy is a broad term used to describe the tests that are done to see inside the digestive tract. Endoscopy is considered a non-surgical procedure, and may be done in a hospital, a clinic, or even in a doctor's office. If you break down the word into its parts, "endo" means "internal" and "scope" means to "investigate" or to "examine." People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may undergo several different types of endoscopic procedures to diagnose and treat their disease.

During an endoscopy procedure, a flexible tube with a light on the end — which is called an endoscope — is inserted into the body. There are different types of endoscopes, with some being inserted through the mouth to see inside the upper digestive tract, and some being inserted through the anus to see inside the lower digestive tract. The physician performing the test can see what's going on inside through the use of the light and camera on the end of the endoscope, with the image being projected on a screen in the endoscopy room. Biopsies can be taken through the endoscope and sent to a laboratory for help in making a diagnosis.

An endoscopy is not only used to investigate and asses, but also sometimes to provide a treatment. During a colonoscopy, polyps in the colon can be removed, which prevents those polyps from growing and becoming cancerous. If there is a narrowing in the intestine, called a stricture, a "balloon" might be used during an endoscopic procedure to open up the stricture.

Other endoscopy procedures might be used to remove lesions or tumors, or close a fistula.

An endoscopy may also be done on someone who has a colostomy or an ileostomy, and has a stoma. The endoscope would be inserted through the stoma in order to see inside the small or the large intestine.

Some types of endoscopy are done without any sedation, while others may be done while the patient is sedated.

For those tests that are done on an outpatient basis, when there is sedation the patient must have a friend or family member to drive them home.

Some of the many types of endoscopy that could be used in treating and monitoring IBD include:

Colonoscopy: Patients must clean out their colon through diet and laxatives, and a scope is inserted through the anus to look at the colon.

ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography): This test is similar to an upper endoscopy, but uses contracts and x-rays to examine the bile ducts and, in some cases, provide treatment.

Proctoscopy: The endoscope is used to examine the anus and the rectum.

Sigmoidoscopy: Might be done with or without the patient preparing, and is used to look at the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon.

Upper Endoscopy: The esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the intestine) are visualized through the endoscope that is inserted through the mouth.

Sources:

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). "Colonoscopy." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). 2015. 27 Apr 2015.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). "ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). 29 Jun 2012. 27 Apr 2015.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). "Flexible Sigmoidoscopy." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). 7 May 2014. 27 Apr 2015.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). "Upper GI Endoscopy." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). 7 May 2014. 27 Apr 2015.

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