Endoscopy is the visualization of the internal organs through the use of a flexible instrument inserted through the mouth or the rectum. Endoscopes utilize a video chip and strobe light so as to capture an image which is then displayed on a video monitor. This allows careful visual inspection of the entire lining surface of the organ being examined.
The term endoscopy refers to the inspection of the upper digestive tract, or esophagus, stomach and duodenum. This is most frequently performed in order to diagnose abdominal pain and bleeding. Causes of these include inflammation within the stomach, ulcers and heartburn.
Inspection of the lower digestive tract is called colonoscopy. This is most frequently utilized to remove polyps, or small growths within the colon, or large intestine, that may become cancerous over time.
Colonoscopy is currently being used as a screening method in patients over the age of 50. There are many circumstances in which colonoscopy is used in patients at a younger age as well.
Colonoscopy and upper endoscopy may also be suggested in order to perform therapeutic examinations. Examples include Laser therapy, dilation of strictures (narrowings) within the esophagus, and the removal of colon polyps, or precancerous growths.
One further examination is call Endoscopic Retrograde CholangioPancreatography, or ERCP. This highly technical procedure is used to remove gallstones stuck between the gallbladder and intestines, as well as to aid in the diagnosis of many diseases of the Pancreas. This procedure is performed in the X-Ray department.
Generally these procedures are performed with light sedation, so that there is minimal discomfort. As well, the preparation for these examinations has improved tremendously, and is no longer difficult. The preparations are tailored to the individual patients' needs.
Organs that can be visualized by endoscopy include the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The liver, pancreas and gallbladder can only be seen by a combination of highly specialized endoscopic techniques performed by gastroenterologists using X Rays guidance.