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Endoscopy uses a tool called an endoscope to examine the inside of the body. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked for signs of disease. (Read about "Biopsy") There may be other instruments on the endoscope as well. For example, there might be a probe at the end of the endoscope that bounces high-energy sound waves off internal organs. (Read about "Ultrasound Imaging")
The tube can be inserted through a natural opening in the body (such as the mouth, anus or vagina) or it may be inserted through a small incision. Endoscopy is considered a minimally invasive medical procedure, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can be used to diagnose and/or treat a number of conditions.
It's important to prepare for an endoscopy procedure, to make sure things go smoothly. You will receive specific instructions from your doctor or healthcare provider. But there are some general things you should do. Make sure you have let the office know about your medical history, as well as any allergies you have, or any medications you may be taking. You will probably need to fast, and you should follow directions exactly. Be sure to ask your doctor about taking any medications prior to the procedure. You will likely get some kind of sedation or anesthesia (Read about "Anesthesia"), so be sure you have arranged for someone to drive you home. If you can, arrange for some time off after the procedure to help in your recovery.
Below are some of the procedures that use endoscopy.
Arthroscopy lets a doctor look inside a joint (where the ends of two or more bones meet), to diagnose and potentially fix problems. An arthroscope is an endoscope or device that has lights and a small camera lens at the end. It is inserted via small incisions. The camera magnifies the scene and displays it on a television screen. If repair work is needed, the doctor can use other small instruments and other small incisions to repair the damage. (Read about "Arthroscopy")
Bronchoscopy is the examination of your lungs and airway passages, using a bronchoscope. A bronchoscope is an endoscope, a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Bronchoscopy can be used in the diagnosis of respiratory diseases and conditions (Read about "Respiratory System") including, but not limited to:
A bronchoscope can be flexible or rigid. If a flexible bronchoscope is used, your nose, and sometimes the back of your throat, will be numbed, and the bronchoscope will be inserted through your nose or mouth and into your lungs. A rigid bronchoscope may be used if there is an obstruction or bleeding. A rigid bronchoscope requires general anesthesia. (Read about "Anesthesia")
Capsule endoscopy is also known as the camera pill. It is a swallowable capsule containing a tiny camera. It takes pictures as it glides through the digestive tract. The patient swallows the capsule, and the natural muscular waves of the digestive tract propel it forward through the esophagus, into the stomach, into the small intestine, through the large intestine, and then out in the stool. The capsule transmits the images to a data recorder, which is worn on a belt around the patient's waist. The physician then transfers the stored data to a computer for processing and analysis.
The battery has an expected life of eight hours, which is generally long enough to photograph the small intestine, but not long enough to photograph the entire gastrointestinal tract.
It can be used to visualize the inside of the small intestine to detect polyps, cancer, or causes of bleeding and anemia. (Read about "Gastrointestinal Bleeding" "Anemia") It can also be used to examine problems with the esophagus such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or Barrett's esophagus. (Read about "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease") If a capsule endoscopy suggests a serious problem, a patient may still need conventional endoscopy to confirm a diagnosis.
A colonoscopy lets the doctor look inside the large intestine. It is most often used to look for early signs of colorectal cancer. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and weight loss. (Read about "Colonoscopy")
Cystoscopy is the examination of the bladder and urethra, using a cystoscope, a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. The cystoscope may also have extra tubes to guide other instruments for procedures to treat urinary problems. Cystoscopy can be used in the diagnosis of a number of diseases and conditions, including but not limited to:
During the cystoscopy, the doctor will insert the tip of the cystoscope into your urethra and slowly glide it up into the bladder. A sterile liquid (water or saline) will flow through the cystoscope to slowly fill your bladder and stretch it so that the doctor has a better view of the bladder wall. There are several options for anesthesia available for this procedure. (Read about "Anesthesia")
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) lets the doctor diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. The liver is a large organ that, among other things, makes a liquid called bile that helps with digestion. (Read about "The Liver") The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that stores bile until it is needed for digestion. The bile ducts are tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. The pancreas is a large gland that produces chemicals that help with digestion and hormones such as insulin. ERCP can be used in the diagnosis and/or treatment of a number of conditions, including, but not limited to:
Before the procedure, the doctor will spray your throat with a numbing agent; you may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax. You will then swallow the endoscope, a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. The doctor will then inject a dye through a tube in the endoscope and into the ducts to make them show up clearly on x-rays. (Read about "X-rays") X-rays are taken after the dye is injected. If the exam shows a gallstone or narrowing of the ducts, the physician can insert instruments into the scope to remove or relieve the obstruction. Also, tissue samples can be taken for further testing or biopsy. (Read about "Biopsy")
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a procedure in which an endoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing) is inserted into the body. The endoscope has a probe at the end of the endoscope, which is used to bounce high-energy sound waves or ultrasound (Read about "Ultrasound Imaging") off internal organs to make a picture (sonogram). It is also called endosonography.
Endoscopic ultrasound can be used in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer (Read about "Lung Cancer"), as well as cancers of the digestive system, including pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer or esophageal cancer. (Read about "Pancreatic Cancer" "Liver Cancer" "Stomach Cancer" "Esophagus Cancer") Endoscopic ultrasound can also be used in the diagnosis of digestive diseases and conditions including, but not limited to chronic pancreatitis and digestive problems such as fecal incontinence. (Read about "Pancreatitis" "Digestive System" "Fecal Incontinence")
Laparoscopy is a medical procedure used to examine the interior of the abdominal or pelvic cavity. The laparoscope (an endoscope or thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing) is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. Because the incision is smaller than would be needed for conventional surgery, the name "keyhole" or "belly button surgery" has sometimes been used to describe laparoscopy. In addition to the incision for the laparoscope, your doctor may need to make incisions for other tools, depending on the type of procedure. The abdominal cavity may also be inflated with carbon dioxide gas during the laparoscopic procedure. This helps the doctor get a better look at the organs.
Laparoscopy can be used in the diagnosis and/or surgical treatment of a number of conditions, including but not limited to:
Depending on the reason for the laparoscopy, the procedure may be done under general or local anesthesia. (Read about "Anesthesia") Biopsy, or the remove tissue to be checked for signs of disease, can also be done during the procedure. (Read about "Biopsy")
Pleuroscopy, also called thoracoscopy, is used to see inside your chest cavity. It can be used to diagnose and treat some lung issues. It allows a doctor to see the pleura, which lines the inside of the chest cavity, and the outside of the lungs. If there is inflammation of the pleura - a condition called pleurisy (Read about "Pleurisy") - pleuroscopy can help with the draining of any fluid that has accumulated. It also can help with the diagnosis and staging of cancers within the chest cavity, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma or esophageal cancer. (Read about "Lung Cancer" "Mesothelioma" "Esophagus Cancer")
Rhinoscopy or nasoscopy is the examination of the inside of the nose using a rhinoscope. A rhinoscope is an endoscope, a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to biopsy or remove tissue to be checked for signs of disease. (Read about "Biopsy") Rhinoscopy can be used in the diagnosis of diseases and conditions including, but not limited to:
During a rhinoscopy, your nose, and sometimes the back of your throat, will be numbed, and the rhinoscope will be inserted through your nose.
With robotic surgical systems, also called computer-assisted surgery, surgeons don't move endoscopic instruments directly with their hands. Instead, surgeons sit at a console several feet from the operating table and use joysticks similar to those used in video games. They perform surgical tasks by guiding the movement of the robotic arms in a process known as tele-manipulation. (Read about "Robotic Surgery")
Flexible sigmoidoscopy lets the doctor look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid or descending colon. It can be used to look for early signs of cancer in the descending colon and rectum. It can also be used to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain or constipation. (Read about "Flexible Sigmoidoscopy")
Upper endoscopy lets a doctor look inside the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain or chest pain. (Read about "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease" "Gastrointestinal Bleeding" "Indigestion" "Heartburn" "Angina") Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Before the procedure, the doctor will spray your throat with a numbing agent; you may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax. You will then swallow the endoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing), so it can transmit images of the inside of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. This lets the doctor see any abnormalities, insert instruments into the scope to treat the abnormalities or remove samples of tissue to biopsy them. (Read about "Biopsy")
Ureteroscopy is the examination of the ureter (which carries urine from the kidney to the bladder), using an ureteroscope. (Read about "The Urinary System") An ureteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. Some ureteroscopes are flexible; others are more rigid and firm. Ureteroscopy can be done under regional or general anesthesia (Read about "Anesthesia") Ureteroscopy can be used if you have a kidney stone (Read about "Kidney Stones") that has lodged in your ureter or have an area that needs more study in your ureter. Through the ureteroscope, the doctor can see the stone. The doctor can then move the stone, either by removing it with a small basket at the end of a wire inserted through an extra tube in the ureteroscope or by extending a flexible fiber that carries a laser beam to break the stone into smaller pieces that can then pass out of the body in your urine. How and what the doctor will do is determined by the location, size, and composition of the stone. The doctor may leave a stent, a flexible tube that keeps the ureter open for drainage after the procedure.
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