Endoscopy is a way of looking inside the body using a flexible tube that has a small camera on the end of it. This instrument is called an endoscope.
Small instruments can be inserted through an endoscope and used to:
- Look more closely at an area inside the body
- Take samples of abnormal tissues
- Treat certain diseases
- Remove tumors
- Stop bleeding
- Remove foreign bodies (such as food stuck in the esophagus -- the tube that connects your throat to your stomach)
How the Test is Performed
An endoscope is passed through a natural body opening or small cut. There are many types of endoscopes. Each one is named according to the organs or areas they are used to examine.
Endoscopy is often used to examine and treat parts of the digestive tract, such as:
- Anoscopy views the inside of the anus, the very lowest part of the colon.
- Colonoscopy views the inside of the colon (large intestine) and rectum.
- Enteroscopy views the small intestine (small bowel).
- ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) views the biliary tract, small tubes that drain the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas.
- Sigmoidoscopy views the inside the sigmoid colon and rectum.
- Upper endoscopy (or EGD) views the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine.
Bronchoscopy is used to look in the airways and lungs.
Cystoscopy is used to view the inside of the bladder. The scope is passed through the opening of the urethra.
Laparoscopy is used to look directly at the ovaries, appendix, or other abdominal organs.
- It is inserted through small surgical cuts in the pelvic or belly area.
- Tumors or organs in the abdomen or pelvis can be removed.
Arthroscopy is used to look directly in the joints.
- It is inserted through small surgical cuts around the joint.
- Problems with bones, tendons, ligaments can be treated.
How to Prepare for the Test
The preparation for the test varies greatly, depending on the test. For example, there is no preparation needed for anoscopy, whereas a special diet and laxatives are needed to prepare for a colonoscopy. Check with your doctor about what preparation is required for your test.
How the Test will Feel
All of these tests cause discomfort or pain. Some of them are done after sedatives and pain medications are given. Check with your doctor about what to expect.
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Pasricha PJ. Gastrointestinal endoscopy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 136.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.