What is Endoscopy

Dr Priya Sharma

Dr Priya Sharma

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 6 years of experience

December 7, 2020 Lifestyle Diseases 1316 Views

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What is an Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a medical procedure that is used to observe a tissue or an internal organ in detail. It is helpful to carry out minor surgeries and imaging. 

In this process, a long, flexible, and thin tube known as an endoscope is inserted through the openings of the body such as the mouth or the anus. The endoscope has a light, camera, instrument port, and a port for water and air at its end.

An endoscopy is usually minimally invasive and only comes in contact with the intact skin and tissue, for example, a colonoscopy that is done by the insertion of the endoscope is inserted through the anus. Endoscopy is invasive only in cases where it is inserted through an insertion into the body, for example, in the case of laparoscopy, which is done for viewing the abdomen

Endoscopy is usually an investigative and diagnostic medical procedure, but it can be used as a therapeutic (treatment) procedure in some cases.

This article will explain in detail endoscopy.

  • What are the Types of Endoscopy?
  • Why is Endoscopy done?
  • When do I require an Endoscopy?
  • How to Prepare for an Endoscopy procedure?
  • How is Endoscopy performed?  
  • What are the various Risks of Endoscopy? 
  • What does the Result of Endoscopy mean? 

What are the types of Endoscopy? 

Endoscopy is used to detect any problem or abnormality in the internal organs or tissues of the body. There are several types of endoscopy that are performed-

  • Mediastinoscopy – A procedure performed by a thoracic surgeon for the examination of the area between the two lungs, where the heart is positioned. It is done by passing the endoscope through an incision made above the breast bone (known as the sternum).
  • Laryngoscopy – An endoscope is inserted into the mouth or the nose of the patient for examination of the larynx (or voicebox) in the throat. This procedure is usually done by an ENT surgeon. ( Know more about- What is Laryngectomy? )
  • Bronchoscopy – This procedure is performed by a pulmonologist or a thoracic surgeon for an examination inside the lungs. The endoscope is passed through the mouth or the nose of the patient, into the trachea (or windpipe). 
  • Thoracoscopy / Pleuroscopy – This procedure is performed by a pulmonologist or a thoracic surgeon to examine the lung surfaces and the pleural space (the space covering the lungs). An endoscope is passed through the incision made in the chest wall.
  • Laparoscopy – This procedure is performed for examination of the organs inside the abdomen. A procedure that is performed by multiple surgeons, it is done through an incision made over the abdomen.
  • Arthroscopy – This procedure is performed by an orthopedic surgeon to examine the joints in the body by making an incision over the joint.
  • Colonoscopy – The endoscope is inserted to view the large intestine through the anus to examine the lumen (a cavity surrounded by the anal canal). It is done by a gastroenterologist. ( Know more about- What is Colonoscopy? )
  • Hysteroscopy – A procedure is done by a gynecologist in which the endoscope is introduced through the cervix into the vagina to view the uterus.  ( Know more about- What is Hysteroscopy? )
  • Enteroscopy – It is done for the examination of the esophagus, stomach, and the proximal part (situated near the center of the body) of the small intestine. This procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist. 
  • Cystoscopy – This procedure is performed by a urologist to examine the urethra and the bladder by introducing the endoscope through the urethra. ( Know more about- What is Cystoscopy? )
  • Ureteroscopy – It is a procedure performed by a urologist in which the endoscope is passed through the urethra and the urinary bladder to view the ureter (a tube that connects the kidney to the urinary bladder).
  • Sigmoidoscopy – This procedure is used to examine the anal canal and the distal part of the large intestine. It is done by a gastroenterologist. 

Why is Endoscopy done? 

 An endoscopy may be performed for-

  • Investigation of symptoms and diagnosis– Endoscopy is done for the investigation of any abnormal signs or symptoms whose cause needs to be identified.
  • Biopsy– A small sample of any abnormal tissue or mass that may be present is taken and sent to the laboratory for pathological investigation. This helps in the detection of conditions like anemia, inflammation, bleeding, diarrhea, or cancer of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. ( Know more about- What is Lung Biopsy? )
  • Treatment– A minor surgery can be performed for the treatment of certain diseases using endoscopy. Endoscopy also helps in the treatment of a few problems in the digestive system such as widening of a narrow esophagus, burning off a blood vessel to stop bleeding, removal of any foreign body, or removal of a polyp (abnormal tissue growth in the body). 

When do I require an Endoscopy?

The doctor will advise an endoscopy for a patient having one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms– Stomach pain, acidity, vomiting of blood, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, blood in stools, unexplained and sudden weight loss. ( Know more about- What is Blood in Stools? )
  • Respiratory symptoms– Difficulty in swallowing food, blood in sputum, chronic cough, difficulty in breathing, breathlessness, pain, or exertion on breathing.
  • Female Reproductive System symptoms– Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, excess bleeding during menstruation, abnormal discharge from the vagina, inability to conceive, pain in the lower part of the abdomen.
  • Urinary System symptoms– Increased frequency of urination, blood is seen in urine, urinary retention, weak stream of urine, discharge from the urethra, presence of a stone in the urinary tract. ( Know more about- What is Blood in Urine? )
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms– Joint pain, restriction in movement, sound on moving of the joint, displacement of the joint.

How to prepare for an Endoscopy procedure?

The endoscopy procedure does not require an overnight hospital stay and usually takes about 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete depending on the kind of procedure being performed. Endoscopy is usually performed as an outpatient department (OPD) procedure and only sometimes it may require prior hospital admission. 

Any gastrointestinal endoscopy will require 1 to 2 days of preparation with a special diet. However, other types of endoscopies usually do not require any such preparation.

The preparation for an endoscopy includes:

  • For the endoscopy of the digestive tract, fasting of six to eight hours is required before the procedure. It is important to avoid eating or drinking anything during this period so that the stomach is empty during the procedure.
  • The patient may be given a laxative a day before the procedure to clear his/her bowels in case of colon examination.
  • In some cases, antibiotics are prescribed beforehand to reduce the chances of infection.
  • If a patient is taking blood-thinning medications such as clopidogrel or warfarin, the patient may be asked to stop taking the blood-thinning medicines days before the procedure, as blood thinners may increase the chances of bleeding. However, it should be noted that these medications should strictly be stopped only after a consultation with your doctor.

How is Endoscopy performed? 

The patient may first undergo diagnostic imaging scans like the MRI, CT scan, or Ultrasonography before the procedure of endoscopy.

  • The patient is kept on fasting for 6 to 8 hours before the procedure.
  • The patient is made to lie down on their back or their side.
  • Various monitors are attached to the body to keep a track of the patient’s breathing rate, blood pressure, and heart rate during the procedure.
  • A sedative may be given through a vein in the forearm to relax the patient and make the procedure comfortable.  
  • Anesthesia is then administered. Anesthesia given can be general or localized. The doctor may spray anesthesia in the mouth to numb the throat for the insertion of the endoscope tube.
  • The endoscope is then passed through the mouth, or an incision as indicated. When inserted in the mouth, the doctor will ask you to swallow. One may feel a slight pressure in the throat during this procedure, but, there should be no pain involved. The endoscope will not interfere with the breathing of the patient, although the patient will not be able to talk once the endoscope is inside the mouth.
  • Once the endoscope goes down the esophagus (food pipe), the doctor will watch if there are any abnormalities in the digestive tract through the monitor which is directly attached to the tiny camera on the tip of the endoscope. If any abnormalities are seen, the doctor will record these images for future reference.
  • Gentle air pressure may be given via the endoscope into the esophagus to inflate the digestive tract, expanding the view of the area and allowing the endoscope to move freely. This allows the doctor to examine the folds of the digestive tract.
  • The investigation or the required procedure is then carried out. Special surgical equipment may be passed through the endoscope to carry out procedures like the collection of a tissue sample, removal of a polyp, etc.
  • After the procedure, the endoscope is slowly removed through the mouth. In case of an invasive endoscopy that is done through an incision, the incisions are later stitched back and a dressing is given.
  • The patient is then sent to the recovery room for observation. The patient is usually asked to stay here for about an hour so that the health care team can monitor the patient as the effect of the sedative wears off.

The recovery period varies depending on the procedure that is performed, but in most diagnostic endoscopy procedures the patient can go home the same day.

The patient is advised to rest for 24 hours after the procedure since one’s judgment and reaction time may be affected due to the effect of the sedative even though the patient is alert.

What are the various Risks of Endoscopy? 

After the procedure of endoscopy, the patient may experience a few of the following symptoms-

Usually, these symptoms are mild and improve with time.

Endoscopies are safe routine procedures and very rarely have risks such as:

  • Oversedation
  • Perforation or tear of the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or intestines
  • Trauma to the internal organs
  • Infection of the area of investigation
  • Internal bleeding
  • Persistent pain in the area of endoscopy performed
  • Complications due to certain pre-existing conditions

In case one has any of these symptoms following an endoscopy, contact your doctor immediately:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Chest pain ( Know more about- What are the home remedies for chest pain?  )
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pain and inflammation on the incision site
  • Discharge from the incision
  • Dark-colored stools
  • Non-subsiding, persistent pain 

What is the Result of Endoscopy?

The result of an endoscopy procedure depends on the condition of the patient. For example, if the endoscopy has been performed to find an ulcer, the doctor will find it right after the procedure. However, if a biopsy (collection of a tissue sample) has been performed, the results will be obtained only after a couple of days from the testing laboratory.

We hope we could answer your questions regarding Endoscopy through this article.

If you need any more information about Endoscopy, you can contact a Gastroenterologist

We only aim to give you information through this article and do not recommend any medication or treatment. Only a qualified doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan. 

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