GI Endoscopy

With the procedure known as gastrointestinal endoscopy, a doctor is able to see the inside lining of your digestive tract. This examination is performed using an endoscope-a flexible fiberoptic tube with a tiny TV camera at the end.
The camera is connected to either an eyepiece for direct viewing or a video screen that displays the images on a color TV. The endoscope not only allows diagnosis of gastrointestinal (GI) disease but treatment as well.

Current endoscopes are derived from a primitive system created in 1806-a tiny tube with a mirror and a wax candle. Although crude, this early instrument allowed a first view into a living body.

The GI endoscopy procedure may be performed on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. Through the endoscope, a doctor can evaluate several problems, such as ulcers or muscle spasms. These concerns are not always seen on other imaging tests.

Endoscopy has several names, depending on which portion of your digestive tract your doctor seeks to inspect.

Colonoscopy: This procedure enables the doctor to see ulcers, inflamed mucous lining of your intestine, abnormal growths and bleeding in your colon, or large bowel.

Enteroscopy: Enteroscopy is a recent diagnostic tool that allows a doctor to see your small bowel. The procedure may be used in the following ways:

To diagnose and treat hidden GI bleeding

To detect the cause for malabsorption

To confirm problems of the small bowel seen on an x-ray

During surgery, to locate and remove sores with little damage to healthy tissue

Doctors do have other diagnostic tests besides GI endoscopy, including echography to study the upper abdomen and a barium enema and other x-ray exams that outline the digestive tract. Doctors can study the stomach juices, stools, and blood to learn about GI functions. But none of these tests offers a direct vision of the mucous lining of the digestive tube.

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