What is an endoscopy?
An endoscopy is a procedure in which your doctor uses specialized instruments to view and operate on the internal organs and vessels of your body. It allows surgeons to see problems within your body without making large incisions.
A surgeon inserts an endoscope through a small cut or an opening in the body such as the mouth. An endoscope is a flexible tube with an attached camera that allows your doctor to see. Your doctor can use forceps and scissors on the endoscope to operate or remove tissue for biopsy.
- Investigation: If an individual is experiencing vomiting, abdominal pain, breathing disorders, stomach ulcers, difficulty swallowing, or gastrointestinal bleeding, for example an endoscope can be used to search for a cause.
- Confirmation of a diagnosis: Endoscopy can be used to carry out a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of cancer or other diseases.
- Treatment: an endoscope can be used to treat an illness directly; for instance, endoscopy can be used to cauterize (seal using heat) a bleeding vessel or remove a polyp.
Sometimes, endoscopy will be combined with another procedure such as an ultrasound scan. It can be used to place the ultrasound probe close to organs that can be difficult to image, such as the pancreas.
Modern endoscopes are sometimes fitted with sensitive lights that use narrow band imaging. This type of imaging uses specific blue and green wavelengths that allow the doctor to spot precancerous conditions more easily.
Risks and Side Effects
Endoscopy is a relatively safe procedure, but there are certain risks involved.
- Over-sedation, although sedation is not always necessary
- Feeling bloated for a short time after the procedure
- Infection of the area of investigation: this most commonly occurs when additional procedures are carried out at the same time. The infections are normally minor and treatable with a course of antibiotics
- Internal bleeding, usually minor and sometimes treatable by endoscopic cauterization
- Complications related to preexisting conditions