Endoscopy is a process through which surgeons view and operate on internal organs and vessels of the body with the help of specialised instruments. Without making larger incisions, surgeons are able to view and address the problems within the patient's body.
An endoscope is a flexible tube fitted with a camera that the surgeon inserts through the mouth or with a small incision. Using scissors and forceps on the endoscope the surgeon can operate or remove tissue. Upper GI (Gastro-intestinal) endoscopy is used to examine the digestive tract of a person.
Often, endoscopes are passed into the large intestine through the rectum to examine the areas of the intestine. The process is known as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Endoscopy is used to visualise the organs as a diagnostic test. Some tissues can be biopsied during the procedure to get additional diagnostic information. Some problems can also be treated during endoscopy obviating the need for more major surgery.
Need for Endoscopy
Endoscopy is done to visually examine an organ. The cameras fitted with the endoscope allow the doctor to view an organ and its potential problems without a big incision. The doctor visualises the organs on a screen, much like a small TV screen. Endoscopy is done to check:
- Bleeding of digestive tract
- Chronic constipation
Before endoscopy, the doctor will review symptoms and perform a physical examination and may order some blood tests. The tests help doctors to get a more detailed and accurate understanding of the symptoms. It may also help them find out if the problems can treated without endoscopy.
Based on the body area, endoscopy is of the following types:
Colonoscopy: It examines the colon where the endoscope is inserted through the anus.
Arthroscopy: It is used to examine the joints and the endoscope is inserted through a small incision in the joint.
Enteroscopy: Used to examine the small intestine, the endoscope is inserted through the mouth or anus.
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: It is used to inspect the upper intestinal tract and the oesopghagus.
Laryngoscopy: It is used to examine the larynx and the endoscope is inserted through the nostril.
Mediastinoscopy: Used to examine the area between the lungs and the endoscope is passed through a small incision above the breastbone.
Laparoscopy: It is used to examine the pelvic area where the endoscope is inserted through the area that's to be examined.
Preparation for Endoscopy
Doctors give complete instruction to patients before preparing for the surgery. Most procedures require one to fast for about 12 hours. Doctors may give enemas to clear the system. Before the surgery, doctors conduct a physical examination and review the entire medical history of the patient. Patients must tell their doctor about any medications they are taking and also about allergies that they have (if any).
Endoscopy Complications and Potential Side Effects
There is much lower risk of bleeding and infection in endoscopy as compared to open surgery. These are some of the rare complications and potential side-effects of this medical procedure:
- Pain in chest
- Constant pain in the area where the surgery has been performed
- Redness and swelling at the site of incision
For most examinations with an endoscope, a sedative is used that increases the comfort of patients.