ABOUT ENDOSCOPY IN BRIEF
The nonsurgical procedure to examine mostly the whole digestive system is called Endoscopy. In this process, the physician uses a flexible thin (not thicker than our index finger) light tube (endoscope) where a small camera is attached to it. The endoscope lights the way for the doctor while the doctor gets to examine the clear pictures of your digestive tract on a color TV monitor. The technique is to place the endoscope through the mouth and throat, into the stomach and finally into the small intestine. This process is known as upper endoscopy which allows the doctor to diagnose the stomach, esophagus, and the upper part of the small intestine. On the other hand, colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is the technique to examine large intestine (colon) where endoscopes can be passed through the rectum. Even though, the term depends on how far the colon investigated.
WHEN DO YOU NEED AN ENDOSCOPY:
Being a highly effective way of diagnosis, doctors can often suggest an endoscopy to evaluate:
- Stomach pain
- Digestive duct bleeding
- Polyps or growth in the colon
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Ulcers, gastritis, or difficulty swallowing, etc.
An endoscopy can also be recommended not only to diagnose but also to treat a disease; such as an endoscopy can prevent colon cancer by the removal of colon or polyps. An endoscope can also be used to a biopsy (removal of tissue) to look for disease. Using ERCP, a special kind of endoscopy, the doctor can remove gallstones from the gallbladder or the biliary duct.
IS ENDOSCOPY SAFE:
Endoscopy is mostly a safe procedure. However, there are some minor complications post-procedure.
- Post-discomfort: Your throat may be sore for a day or two in case of upper endoscopy. The effect of sedation results in temporary memory loss.
- Perforation: in rare cases, a tear or a hole may occur in the digestive system which cures typically on its own. But in extreme cases, the patient may need surgery to seal the hole.
- Pancreatitis: As a result of ERCP, inflammation of the pancreas may occur, but it is only seen in 3% to 7% of all patients who undergo ERCP. In extreme cases, it may be fatal and requires hospitalization.
Other minor complications are bleeding, infection and aspiration problems.
WHO PERFORMS AN ENDOSCOPY:
While gastroenterologists perform most endoscopy procedures, sigmoidoscopy may be performed by the family doctor or internist in their office. Other specialists, such as hepatologist, gastrointestinal surgeons also can perform these procedures.