Endoscopy plays an important role in the management of complex gastrointestinal disorders in terms of diagnosis as well as treatment. By using an endoscope which consists of a flexible tube with a light source, camera, and several channels through which specialized small instruments can be passed; your doctor can view suspicious areas of the digestive tract in great detail and perform certain corrective procedures.
During upper endoscopy, the endoscope is passed through the mouth to view the esophagus and stomach as well as the upper part of the small intestine. In preparation for an upper endoscopy you must fast for 6-8 hours before undergoing the procedure. The endoscope can also be passed through the rectum to view the large intestine. To thoroughly examine the large intestine, the colon must be cleared off stool by taking a laxative one day prior to the procedure. Endoscopy is usually performed under sedation.
Endoscopy is often recommended to evaluate the cause of unexplained stomach pain, difficulty swallowing, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, and growths or polyps in the colon. Removal of gallstones that are present outside the gallbladder, removal of precancerous polyps and biopsy of a mass within the gastrointestinal tract can all be performed using an endoscope. Complex gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis, liver and pancreatic tumors and bile duct disorders may benefit from endoscopy for evaluation, treatment and monitoring.
Capsule endoscopy may be used to diagnose disorders of the small intestine. It involves swallowing a mini digital camera in a pill form that obtains images as it passes down the GI tract. Endoscopy may be combined with ultrasound (endoscopic ultrasound) to view difficult to access areas of the GI tract while evaluating cancerous and benign lesions.
Endoscopy is a very safe procedure although there is a minimal risk of bleeding, infection, perforation, pancreatitis, and reaction to sedation.