The term endoscopy refers to the visual examination of the human body for medical reasons.

This medical procedure is used to see abnormalities that do not show up well on x rays.

Endoscopy is also used to evaluate the interior surfaces of an organ by inserting a small scope in the body.

Through this procedure, one is able to see lesions through the scope as well as discover the reasons for abdominal pain, chest pain, nausea, bleeding, swallowing difficulties, vomiting, reflux, indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems.

The instrument used provides an image of the target area and enables taking small biopsies and retrieving foreign objects. It also blows air into the stomach. This expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier to examine the stomach.

Endoscopic procedure needs to be done on an empty stomach. One should therefore avoid food and drinks for a minimum of 6 hours before the procedure.

Endoscopy is usually the vehicle for minimally invasive surgery. Most endoscopic procedures are relatively painless. The procedures may be associated with mild discomfort. Patients are normally sedated for most procedures.


The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes.

One however needs to rest at the facility where the procedure takes place for one or two hours to enable the medication to wears off.


Endoscopy complications are rare. Most people get a mild sore throat after the procedure.

Any complications that occur may include perforation of the organ under inspection with the endoscope or biopsy instrument.

If perforation occurs, surgery is normally required to repair the injury.


a) A light delivery system may be used to illuminate the organ under inspection. The light source is normally outside the body. It is directed via an optical fibre system.

b) Another way is transmission of the image through a lens system. A fiberscope can also be used to transmit the image to the viewer.

c) Another common system nowadays is to use a capsule camera or video pill at the distal end of the optical system. This projects findings on a video system. An additional channel can allow entry of instruments to collect biopsy samples or to operate.

Endoscope Uses

Endoscopes are normally used to visualize and collect specimens from the following areas:

a) Gastrointestinal tract; These include the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (esophagogastroduodenoscopy).

Endoscopes can also be used to examine the colon (colonoscopy) or sigmoid colon (proctosigmoidoscopy).

An endoscope may used to introduce radiographic contrast medium into the bile ducts so they can be visualized on x-ray in a process called in an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

b) Respiratory tract; Endoscopes can be used to examine the nose (rhinoscopy) and the lower respiratory tract (bronchoscopy).

c) Urinary tract (cystoscopy).

d) Areas of the female reproductive system that can be inspected using endoscopes include the uterus (hysteroscopy) and the Fallopian tubes (Falloscopy).

e) Closed body cavities are scrutinised by making a small incision. These include; the abdominal or pelvic cavity (laparoscopy), the interior of a joint (arthroscopy) and organs of the chest (thoracoscopy and mediastinoscopy).

f) During pregnancy endoscopes are used to study the amnion (amnioscopy) and the foetus (fetoscopy).

Patient education on gastrointestinal endoscopy procedure, risks and likely complications as well as information on other gastrointestinal problems.

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