Endoscopy is derived from two Greek words: endo (within) and skopein (to view or observe). Simply put it means “to observe inside.” The procedure uses a special instrument known as the endoscope to visualise the insides of the body cavity or the inner surface of a hollow organ. Eg stomach.
An endoscope is a medical device that consists of a long, thin and flexible tube. At the end of the tube, there’s a video camera at the tip which makes use of fibre optics to allow the insides of the body cavity or lining to be illuminated, enabling direct visualisation.
An endoscope is used to capture a “live” video of the inner lining of the hollow organ that is being examined. The images are then projected on a screen. Many endoscopes today produce high-definition (HD) images, giving the doctor a very clear image of the area that is being examined.
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When Do You Need an Endoscopy?
Endoscopy can help doctors diagnose medical conditions. If doctors can see abnormalities such as an abnormal growth (tumour) they can take tissue samples (ie.biopsies) using the endoscope. This is done to determine if the tumour is cancerous or benign,
Endoscopy is also known for its therapeutic capability. The process allows doctors to treat certain conditions using the endoscope. Modern-day endoscopes come with working channels.
These working channels allow doctors to pass special instruments such as laser fibres, special scissors, and forceps. Doctors can also stop bleeding, inject drugs, resect (“cut out”) tumours, and remove foreign bodies using the endoscope.
Is Endoscopy Painful?
Patients will not be aware as they will be sedated during the procedure. Although some patients may experience slight discomfort, most patients will not be able to remember the experience.
Sedation is different from general anaesthesia(GA). When a patient is sedated, the drugs used are short-acting. In addition, the drugs often will not have any side effects such as nausea.
Typically, the medication is administered by the specialist doing the endoscopy. However, if the patient has other medical issues, an anaesthetist may perform the sedation to ensure the patient’s safety.
Is the Procedure Safe?
An endoscopy is a very safe procedure. It is also one of the most prevalently performed procedures. Most are conducted as day-surgery procedures. In other words, the patient does not have to be admitted.
Endoscopy can only be done by specialists who have undergone adequate training and have been accredited to perform these procedures. Well-established guidelines are adhered to pre and post procedure to ensure that the necessary precautions are taken.
Patients will be sedated (asleep) until the whole procedure has been completed. Since the sedation medication that will be used is short-acting, patients will wake up fairly quickly once the procedure has been completed (typically 15 to 30 minutes after the completion of the procedure) .
What Conditions Can Endoscopy Detect?
Aside from cancerous growths, the procedure can detect and remove polyps (benign and or precancerous growths) for pathology examination.Many conditions can be diagnosed through endoscopy including inflammation and infection.
Often, this is combined with biopsies to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The process can also be used to determine location of bleeding in the stomach or large intestine. Advanced therapeutic manoeuvres allow doctors to stop the bleeding as well.
What Type of Cancers Can an Endoscopy Detect?
This depends on the kind of endoscopy that is carried out.
- Gastroscopy – can detect cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum,
- Colonoscopy – can detect cancers of the colon and rectum
- Cystoscopy – can detect cancers of the urinary bladder
- Bronchoscopy – can detect lung cancers
- Nasoendoscopy – can detect nose cancer