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Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person's digestive tract. Using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it, your doctor can view pictures of your digestive tract on a monitor.
During an upper endoscopy, an endoscope is easily passed through the mouth and throat and into the oesophagus, allowing the doctor to view the oesophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. Similarly, endoscopes can be passed into the large intestine (colon) through the rectum to examine this area of the intestine. This procedure is called sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy depending on how far up the colon is examined.
Why Do I Need an Endoscopy?
Doctors will often recommend endoscopy to evaluate:
- Stomach pain
- Ulcers, gastritis, or difficulty swallowing
- Digestive tract bleeding
- Changes in bowel habits (chronic constipation or diarrhoea)
- Polyps or growths in the colon
In addition, your doctor may use an endoscope to take a biopsy (removal of tissue) to look for the presence of disease. Endoscopy may also be used to treat a digestive tract problem. For example, the endoscope might not only detect active bleeding from an ulcer, but devices can be passed through the endoscope that can stop the bleeding. In the colon, polyps can be removed through the scope to prevent the development of colon cancer.