What is Endoscopy?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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An endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows physicians to identify and evaluate the function of vital organs as well as locate the presence of any type of abnormalities. The procedure is conducted using a device known as an endoscope. Under certain conditions, an endoscopy will sometimes make use of a similar device that is called a borescope.

An endoscope usually is composed of a tube that is either flexible or rigid, depending on the type of endoscopic procedure to be performed. The device includes a light source to illuminate the interior area that the physician wishes to observe, as well as a lens to help focus the view and to take photographs is necessary. The presence of the tube also makes it possible to utilize various types of medical instruments to gently move organs to one side or to harvest a tissue sample of some kind.

The main purpose of this procedure is to allow the physician to observe what is happening within the body. The procedure can help the physician to identify signs that an organ is not functioning as it should, is enlarged, or in some other manner is not as it should be. At the same time, it can be used to visually evaluate any type of abnormal growths present in or around an organ, such as a tumor.


Along with providing a real-time visual image to the physician, an endoscopy sometimes includes the extraction of a small sample of tissue. This is especially helpful when the physician feels there is a need to perform a biopsy or other testing on some other type of tissue sample. Along with harvesting tissue samples, the procedure will normally include taking snapshots of the body’s interior. The attending physician can use these photographs in the ongoing process of diagnosis and treatment.

This type of procedure can be used to observe activity in a number of systems throughout the body. For example, a gastrointestinal endoscopy would provide access to the entire GI tract, including the small intestine, bile duct, and colon. The duodenum, stomach, and esophagus may also be observed during this procedure. Depending on the particular set of organs the physician wishes to view, the GI procedure may be referred to as a stomach endoscopy or an upper endoscopy.

A capsule endoscopy is a common designation when the procedure includes the use of a small camera. Usually classified as a noninvasive procedure, the encapsulated camera is ingested by the patient, and records images as the capsule moves through the digestive tract. This procedure provides the attending physician with a wealth of information without the need to schedule any type of exploratory surgical procedure.

Endoscopies are also used to observe activity and conditions in the urinary and respiratory tracts. The procedure can also be used in diagnosing health issues with the female reproductive system as well as observe the activity of the heart and other organs found in the chest. There are even specialized forms of the procedure that allow the physician to monitor the condition of the fetus and the amnion during pregnancy.

In years past, the information that can be gathered during an endoscopic procedure would have only been available by using a highly invasive procedure. As a result, the recovery time for the patient is minimal and it is possible to access and utilize the collected data immediately rather than later.


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Post 1

Soon, even an endoscope will not be needed to take pictures inside of our bodies.

A small capsule has been developed that is swallowed like a pill. This capsule contains a camera that takes pictures the entire way through the body.

The process is slow, but the images can be viewed as the capsule moves along, giving doctors an instant look at problem areas without having to cleanse your system before the procedure or having to worry about common endoscopy complications.

The capsule is eventually passed, and the camera can be used again in a new pill.

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