What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a procedure in which cameras are used to view images of the inside of the body on a screen. The device used, known as an endoscope, is a long, thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera and a light source.

What does it consist of?

Endoscopes are inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth or anus. There are different types of endoscopy depending on the site and function of the procedure:

  • Colonoscopy: to examine the bowel.
  • Bronchoscopy: to examine the airway.

Endoscopy can also be used to perform surgical interventions, as in the case of laparoscopy. In this situation, the laparoscope (a particular type of endoscope) is inserted through small incisions. Once inserted, the endoscope can send images from the subject’s body to a TV screen.

Why is it done?

Endoscopy is commonly used to study symptoms and aid in the diagnosis of conditions related to the digestive system. However, it can also be used to produce images and provide assistance in many other parts of the body, including the respiratory system, urinary tract and female reproductive system. An endoscope can also be useful during surgery.

Endoscopy is commonly used to study symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Blood flow with vomiting

Preparing for endoscopy

Before the procedure, you may need to avoid food and fluids for a certain period of time, depending on the type of endoscopy you are having. In the case of a colonoscopy, the patient may be given laxatives to facilitate the evacuation of stool. Also, it may be necessary to stop taking certain medications, such as anticoagulants, to avoid excessive bleeding during the procedure.

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How will you feel during the test?

The procedure usually causes only mild discomfort, although sometimes a local anesthetic is also used. It is usually performed with the patient in a conscious state, although sedatives may be used to help the patient relax. Antibiotics are sometimes used to reduce the risk of infection.

What abnormal results mean

Endoscopy can be used to diagnose a wide range of conditions. The results are interpreted by a specialist. The results will depend on the symptoms being studied and where in the body the endoscopy is performed.