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The Benefits of Endoscopy

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An endoscopic procedure is the insertion of a long, thin tube directly into the body in order to observe internal organs or tissues. Additionally, endoscopy instruments can provide doctors and physicians with imaging and aid during minor surgery. Because these procedures are minimally invasive, these instruments are generally inserted via the mouth or the anus.

Endoscopic procedures have a relatively low risk while delivering quality, detailed images. It has proven incredibly useful in many areas of medicine. As a result, tens of millions of endoscopic procedures are performed every year.

Here are a few examples of the different types, and specific areas of the body, in which endoscopy is useful.

  • Gastrointestinal Tract: Esophagus, stomach and duodenum, small intestine, large intestine/colon, bile duct, rectum, and anus
  • Respiratory Tract: Nose, lower respiratory tract
  • Ear: Otoscopy
  • Urinary Tract: Cystoscopy
  • Female Reproductive Tract: Cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes
  • Through a Small Incision: Abdominal or pelvic cavity, the interior of a joint, organs of the chest

In order to accurately record images of these regions, there are different types of endoscopic procedures designed for specific regions of the body. Here are a few of the endoscopic procedures that can be performed.

Capsule Endoscopy

Developed in the mid-1990s, this specific type of endoscopy involves a tiny, wireless camera that is small enough to fit inside a capsule that can be swallowed. Once swallowed, this camera takes thousands of pictures as it travels through the digestive tract, sending these images to a device attached to a wearable belt.

Typically, capsule endoscopy is used to investigate the small intestine, which is more difficult using traditional endoscopic methods. Typically, the camera makes its way through the digestive tract in 24 to 48 hours. Although this technology was developed in the early 1990s, it did not gain approval from the FDA in the United States until 2001. Since it’s approval, hundreds of thousands of procedures have successfully been carried out, providing doctors with valuable information.

Preparation for an Endoscopic Procedure

As with most other minimally invasive procedures, endoscopic procedures do not require patients to stay overnight at the hospital. In most cases, the entire procedure takes approximately one hour to complete. Similar to most other medical procedures, patients will be required to fast for 12-hours prior to the procedure, or as instructed by a doctor. Procedures that are performed to provide an in-depth look into the gut may require laxatives to be taken the night prior to clean out the system. Doctors will provide full instructions prior to the procedure, informing patients of exactly how they need to prepare for their procedure.

Reasons for an Endoscopy

There are three main reasons why doctors order patients to undergo an endoscopic procedure. These three reasons are:

  • Investigation: Patients who are experiencing vomiting, abdominal pain, breathing disorders, stomach ulcers, difficulty swallowing, or gastrointestinal bleeding will be advised to have an endoscopic procedure to determine the cause.
  • Confirmation of a Diagnosis: If patients have received a diagnosis of cancer or another disease, they may have an endoscopy performed for a biopsy that confirms their diagnosis.
  • Treatment: Endoscopic procedures can also be issued to treat an illness directly. Whether it is to cauterize a bleeding vessel or remove a polyp.

All of the wonder and advantages of an endoscopic procedure is made possible because of the advances in endoscopy instruments and the associated technology. These specifically designed instruments allow doctors to get a first-hand view of the inner workings of the body, helping them provide patients with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.