A diagnostic endoscopy is an examination to look at your internal organs using an instrument called an endoscope. This is a long, tube-like instrument with a lens and light. It may be inserted through a natural opening such as the mouth or anus.
Before having an endoscope passed through the mouth, you must avoid food for several hours as food in the stomach can obstruct the consultant’s view. You are usually given laxatives before an endoscope is inserted into the rectum and colon.
The examination is usually carried out with the patient under sedation, or general anaesthetic in some cases. Your Consultant will discuss the best method with you.
When is an endoscopy used?
To confirm a diagnosis
An endoscopy is often used to confirm a diagnosis when other devices, such as an MRI, X-ray, or CT scan are considered inappropriate.
An endoscopy is often carried out to find out the degree of problems a known condition may have caused. The endoscopy, in these cases, may significantly contribute towards the doctor’s decision on the best treatment for the patient.
The following conditions and illnesses are most commonly investigated or diagnosed with an endoscopy:
- Breathing disorders
- Chronic diarrhea
- Internal bleeding
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Stomach ulcers
- Urinary tract infections
Endoscopies are commonly used for the diagnosis of cancer. They are used for biopsies – taking samples of tissue to find out whether it is cancerous. Thanks to an endoscope, biopsies of the intestines or lungs can be done without the need for major surgery. Colonoscopy is the most effective screening option for colorectal cancer.
Some surgical procedures can be carried out with a modified endoscope, such as the removal of the gallbladder, tying and sealing the fallopian tubes, and taking out small tumors and foreign objects from the lungs or digestive system. A study found that the removal through endoscopy of tumors that affect only the superficial layers of the esophagus can avoid complete extirpation of this part of the digestive tract.