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Medical endoscopic imaging is a procedure in which a miniature camera is introduced into the body to transmit pictures to a monitor or computer. The doctor can then review the images to obtain a close look at the internal organs. If the area to be examined is not accessible through an existing opening, a small surgical incision may be used to insert the endoscopic equipment. In some cases, a procedure called capsule endoscopy may be performed; the patient swallows a capsule containing an endoscopic camera that transmits images as it passes through the digestive system.
In a standard endoscopy, the camera and its light source are attached to the end of a tube, which may be rigid or flexible. The tube is inserted into an existing opening, such as the mouth or rectum, or a small incision is made if the area to be examined has no external access. Images are sent to a monitor for real-time viewing or a computer for later inspection. If needed, tissue samples can be collected or surgery performed at the same time as the endoscopy.
With a capsule endoscopy, the patient swallows a capsule that contains a capsule. The outer capsule dissolves, revealing the camera. Over the next 24 hours, the camera passes through the patient's digestive tract and sends images to a device worn on the patient's wrist. The doctor downloads the images from the device for examination, and the camera passes harmlessly through the patient's body.
There are many benefits of endoscopic imaging. Doctors do not need to perform exploratory surgery to obtain a close-up look at hidden areas. Images are typically clearer and more realistic than those obtained through other means, such as Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scans. The doctor performing the procedure can manipulate the camera to obtain the best view, images can be magnified or enhanced and results can be viewed instantly in most cases.
Endoscopic imaging equipment can be used to examine several different areas of the body, and the precise name of the procedure depends on the part of the body being examined. Some of the procedures used to examine the gastrointestinal tract are called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, enteroscopy, sigmoidoscopy, proctoscopy or a colonoscopy. Women may receive a falloposcopy to obtain images of the fallopian tubes or a hysteroscopy of the uterus. Images of the inside of a joint can be obtained through an endoscopic imaging procedure called an arthroscopy. Patients may undergo a laryngoscopy to obtain images of the throat and vocal chords, and a bronchoscopy is an endoscopic imaging procedure used to examine the patient's lungs and bronchial tubes.