What to know about endoscopy
Endoscopy is the insertion of a long, thin tube directly into the body to observe an internal organ or tissue in detail. It can also be used to carry out other tasks including imaging and minor surgery.
Endoscopes are minimally invasive and can be inserted into the openings of the body such as the mouth or anus. Sometimes, kids’ allergy symptoms are mild enough to handle at home. But when they become serious or happen a lot, it’s time to see a pediatrician.
Types of endoscopy
Gastrointestinal tract: esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), small intestine (enteroscopy), large intestine/colon (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy), bile duct, rectum (rectoscopy), and anus (anoscopy).
Respiratory tract: Nose (rhinoscopy), lower respiratory tract (bronchoscopy).
Urinary tract: Cystoscopy
Female reproductive tract (gynoscopy): Cervix (colposcopy), uterus (hysteroscopy), fallopian tubes (falloposcopy).
Through a small incision: Abdominal or pelvic cavity (laparoscopy), interior of a joint (arthroscopy), organs of the chest (thoracoscopy and mediastinoscopy).
Preparation before procedure
The procedure does not require an overnight stay in the hospital and usually only takes around 1 hour to complete. The doctor will provide instructions about the preparation for the procedure.
For many types of endoscopy, the individual needs to fast for around 12 hours, though this varies based on the type. For procedures investigating the gut, laxatives may be taken the night before to clear the system. A doctor will carry out an examination before the endoscopy. It is important to mention all current medications (including supplements) and any previous procedures.
The procedure will depend to some extent on the reason for the endoscopy. There are three main reasons for carrying out an endoscopy:
Investigation: If an individual is experiencing vomiting, abdominal pain, breathing disorders, stomach ulcers, difficulty swallowing, or gastrointestinal bleeding, for example an endoscope can be used to search for a cause.
Confirmation of a diagnosis: Endoscopy can be used to carry out a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of cancer or other diseases.
Treatment: an endoscope can be used to treat an illness directly; for instance, endoscopy can be used to cauterize (seal using heat) a bleeding vessel or remove a polyp.
Sometimes, endoscopy will be combined with another procedure such as an ultrasound scan. It can be used to place the ultrasound probe close to organs that can be difficult to image, such as the pancreas. Modern endoscopes are sometimes fitted with sensitive lights that use narrow band imaging. This type of imaging uses specific blue and green wavelengths that allow the doctor to spot precancerous conditions more easily.
An endoscopy is typically performed while the patient is conscious, although sometimes the patient will receive local anesthetic (commonly an anesthetic spray to the back of the throat); often, the patient is sedated.
For endoscopy procedures involving entry through the mouth, a mouth guard will be used to protect the teeth and lips as the tube is inserted.