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Endoscopy

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.

  • How the test is performed

    There are many types of endoscopes. Each one is named according to the organs or areas they are used to examine.

    For example:

    • Arthroscope: Used to look directly at the joints
    • Bronchoscope: Used to look at the lungs
    • Cystoscope: Used to view the inside of the bladder
    • Laparoscope: Used to look directly at the ovaries, appendix, or other abdominal organs

    An endoscope is passed through a natural body opening or a small incision. For example, a laparoscope is inserted through small surgical cuts in the pelvic or belly area. In men, a urinary tract endoscope is passed through the opening of the urethra. A gastrointestinal endoscope may be inserted through the mouth or anus. An ultrasound probe can be added to a gastrointestinal endoscope. This is called an endoscopic ultrasound. Depending on the area of interest, this device can also be passed through the mouth or anus.

    Small instruments can be inserted through an endoscope and used to take samples of suspicious tissues.

    This article offers a general overview on endoscopy. For more information, see the specific procedure:

  • How to prepare for the test

    Ask your health care provider if you need to do anything to prepare for your endoscopy. You may be asked not to eat or drink before most types of endoscopy. Before an examination of the lower gastrointestinal tract, you may be asked to use enemas or laxatives to clear out the large intestine.

  • How the test will feel

    You will be given a medicine to help you relax and possibly fall asleep. This is called sedation. With the right sedation, you should have little, if any, discomfort.

    Sedation is usually not given to those having an endoscopic ultrasound of the rectum. The endoscope will create a feeling of the need to move the bowels (pass stool), but should not cause any pain.

  • Why the test is performed

    There are many different reasons to perform an endoscopy. For example, your doctor may order an endoscope if you have bleeding, pain, difficulty swallowing, and a change in bowel habits. Colonoscopy is also be done to screen for colon polyps and colon cancer.

    For more information, see the specific article:

  • Normal Values

    The endoscopy should reveal normal function and appearance of the area being examined.

  • What abnormal results mean

    Abnormal results depend on the type of exam being performed. Your health care provider will explain your results following the endoscopy. For detailed information see:

  • What the risks are

    The major risks are pain, bleeding, or infection. There is also a risk of perforation (tearing) of the tissue wall during endoscopy.

    Reactions to the sedation can occur, although they are rare. For this reason your breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level will be monitored during the procedure.

  • Special considerations

    Endoscopies also can be used to treat certain diseases or conditions. For example, tumors can be removed or bleeding from lesions can be stopped.

Review Date: 2/23/2009

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
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101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
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