Endoscopy uses and types
Why would an endoscopy be recommended?
Your doctor or specialist may strongly suspect an infection of a specific area of your body or may wish to examine one or more of your organs in order to see the extent of damage to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. Before he or she will recommend an endoscopy, he or she will review your symptoms, perform a physical examination and possibly order some blood tests to gain an understanding of the possible causes. In some instances, a blood test may help to determine the cause of a set of symptoms without a need for an endoscopy.
If a cause is not clear, an endoscopy will be recommended. Without making a large incision, an endoscopy procedure allows your doctor to see exactly what the endoscope sees once inside the body, on screen. An endoscope essentially becomes the eyes of your specialist.
If your specialist deems it necessary, an endoscopic biopsy will be performed (a small sample of tissue taken) and sent to a laboratory for testing. Diseases and conditions that may be tested include anaemia, bleeding, inflammation, diarrhoea or cancers of the digestive system. Testing will assess whether there is an infection, the nature of any damage to a specific portion of the body or whether the sample is cancerous.
Symptoms which your doctor may want to look at more closely via an endoscope include:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Peptic ulcers
- Difficulties with swallowing (due to a blockage or structural obstruction in the oesophagus)
- Digestive tract bleeding / gastrointestinal bleeding
- Chronic constipation (blocked bowel passages), diarrhoea and other bowel habit changes
- Growths, polyps and tumours in the small intestine or uterus
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux)
- Hiatal hernia
- Pain in a specific area, especially the joints and in females, the pelvis
- Persistent joint swelling or stiffness
- Damaged cartilage
- Presence of excess fluid
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- A persistent or unexplained cough
- Blood in coughed up mucus (sputum)
- Abnormal chest X-ray
- Potential lung infection (such as tuberculosis)
- Growths within the wall of the intestine (possible colorectal cancer or colon cancer)
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Unexplained weight loss or malnutrition
- Blood in the urine
- Pain during urination
- Bladder or urethal tumours and bladder stones
- A high white blood cell count
- Intestinal damage from radiation treatment
- An abnormal X-ray results
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Retained placenta
- An abdominal mass or tumour
- Fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Liver disease
- Hoarseness, throat pain and bad breath
- Persistent ear ache
- A mass or growth in the throat
- Lung and lymphatic cancers (lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease)
It is possible for an endoscopy procedure to be used to treat a particular digestive tract concern. For instance, an endoscope may pick up internal bleeding from an ulcer. Devices and tools can be passed through the endoscope to stop the bleeding (burn a bleeding vessel) during the procedure.
If a polyp is detected in the colon, it can also be removed through the scope and thus prevent colon cancer from developing. If gallstones have passed outside the gallbladder and into the bile duct, these can also be removed (on occasion).
Sometimes an ultrasound can be performed at the same time if another kind of specialised image of the inside of the body may be useful for diagnosis. An ultrasound probe is attached to the endoscope allowing your doctor to have another view of the wall of the oesophagus or stomach. An ultrasound is particularly useful for hard-to-reach organs, such as the pancreas.
Types of endoscopy
Endoscopies are categorised by the area of the body needed for examination. Types of scopes include:
- Arthroscopy: This scope is inserted through a small incision near a bothersome joint in the body.
- Bronchoscopy: This scope is inserted into the nose or mouth to examine the lungs.
- Colonoscopy: A scope is inserted through the anus to examine the rectum and colon.
- Cystoscopy: A scope needed to examine the bladder will be inserted through the urethra (the hole through which we urinate).
- Enteroscopy: A scope inserted through the mouth or anus may be used to examine the upper to distal part of the small intestine.
- Hysteroscopy: This scope will be inserted through the vagina to examine the inside of a woman’s uterus.
- Laparoscopy: A small incision will be made close to an abdominal or pelvic area giving trouble allowing for a scope to be inserted.
- Laryngoscopy: A scope inserted through the mouth or nostril will be used to examine the larynx or voice box.
- Mediastinoscopy: The area between the lungs is called the ‘mediastinum’. A scope will be inserted through a small incision above the breastbone to examine the area.
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy (also known as a Gastroscopy): A scope is inserted through the mouth and into the oesophagus to examine the upper intestinal tract including the oesophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
- Ureteroscopy: A cope is inserted through the urethra to examine the ureter (the duct through which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder).