About Endoscopies

An endoscopy is a procedure where a medical professional looks inside of the body using an endoscope, a tube-like instrument with a tiny camera and light. There might be a channel for surgical instruments as well. There are several kinds of endoscopies.

Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a form of endoscopy where the doctor examines the inside of the colon. This is typically done to check for signs of cancer of the bowel. If the doctor finds an abnormal growth like a polyp, they can snip it out during the endoscopy itself and perform a biopsy to see whether or not it’s malignant. This procedure is performed under conscious sedation. The patient is given drugs to relax them, but is still conscious.

Gastroscopy
This is also called an upper endoscopy, or EGD. This helps the physician see into the esophagus and down into the stomach and the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.

The patient is also under sedation during this procedure and the back of their throat is given an anesthesia to stop the normal gag reflex. The endoscopy is put in the mouth and guided down the throat while the patient swallows. Then, it’s eased down the esophagus and into the stomach and the duodenum. The doctor can then see any abnormalities in the upper GI track. The procedure takes about twenty minutes.

Nasolaryngoscopy
This is a procedure where the endoscopy is used to check the upper respiratory tract, including the nose and the larynx. The tube is inserted into one nostril. The patient isn’t sedated for this endoscopy, but their nose is sprayed with a decongestant and something to numb it. This type of endoscopy usually takes only a few minutes.

Bronchoscopy
This procedure is used to examine the lower respiratory tract, or the lungs. Once again, the physician will look for abnormalities like bleeding, foreign bodies or tumors and can perform a biopsy at the same time as the endoscopy. The patient is also sedated during this procedure and local anesthesia is given to the upper part of the respiratory track.

The Importance of Having a Colonoscopy

Sometime between the ages of 35 and 50, your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy. Having this type of procedure performed at this age is an important part of preventing, diagnosing and treating colon cancer, which tends to strike in an older age group. Colon cancer is a life threatening illness. A colonoscopy will allow the doctor to see directly into the colon and parts of the intestine, so that polyps and tumors can be diagnosed and treated early.

A narrow tube with a lighted camera on the end is inserted into the colon. This is usually done under conscious sedation, so that the patient is comfortable and can be monitored by the doctor. Dietary restrictions need to be followed prior to the procedure so that the colon is clean and easy to see. The doctor may prescribe a laxative and will ask you to drink only clear liquids.

Polyps that are detected need to be removed, because it is very difficult for doctors to differentiate between cancerous and benign tumors. Bowel inflammatory disease and gastrointestinal hemorrhages can be detected with a colonoscopy as well. Prior to this however, doctors will biopsy anything they find suspicious. Certain symptoms will lead a doctor to recommend the test outside of normal preventative testing. A family history of colon cancer may trigger your doctor to prescribe the test. Abdominal pain and the appearance of blood in the stool can be the signs of a serious problem as well; a colonoscopy can quickly let the doctor know if further screening and treatment is needed.

There are complications from a colonoscopy including excessive bleeding or the potential for infection, so following doctor’s orders after the procedure is always recommended. By having the colonoscopy and detecting any problems early, serious or even fatal illnesses can be treated early or prevented all together.

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