What is a Gastroenterology Endoscopy?
Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is an examination of the digestive tract using a flexible, lighted fibreoptic scope. The procedure enables the physicians to directly visualize the esophagus, stomach, portions of the small intestine, and the large intestine. The physician can obtain biopsies for an accurate diagnosis.

Endoscopy also enables physicians to treat some disorders without open surgery. Dilatation of narrowed areas of the intestine and removal of polyps which are growths in the digestive tract can be done even on an outpatient basis.

Who should have a Gastroenterology Endoscopy?
Anyone who suffers from gastroenterological disorders.

How safe is the Gastroenterology Endoscopy?
This is a safe procedure in the hands of trained specialists. Complications are rare. It may occur in 0.1% of patients undergoing endoscopic procedures. However, complications usually occur in those who are getting therapeutic procedures such as polyp removal and rarely in those who have diagnostic examination.

What are the types of Gastroenterology Endoscopy procedures?
The types of gastrointestinal endoscopy being performed are:

1. Upper Endoscopy
Upper endoscopy is performed by introducing a flexible fiberoptic scope through the mouth to visualise the oesophagus, stomach and the proximal part of the small intestine. Patients are usually sedated. Diseases like erosion in the oesophagus, peptic ulcer, gastritis and Helicobacter pylori infection can be easily diagnosed.

Indications for upper endoscopy:

  • Upper abdominal discomfort or pain which failed to respond to treatment.
  • Upper abdominal discomfort or pain with evidence of serious organic disease such as loss of weight or appetite.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Persistent or refractory reflux symptoms.
  • Evaluation of abnormal radiological abnormality.
  • Family history of gastrointestinal cancer.
  • Known to have or family history of any diseases that is a predisposition to gastrointestinal cancer such as familial adenomatous polyposis.
  • Confirmation of healing of peptic ulcers.

2. Colonoscopy
Fiberoptic colonoscope permits inspection of the entire large intestine by introducing a long flexible tube through the anus and rectum. Any abnormalities on the lining of the large intestine can be detected. The bowel must be specially prepared for at least 2 to 3 days prior to the examination to enable a proper examination.

Indications for colonoscopy:

  • Presence of faecal blood.
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Evaluation of any radiological abnormalities.
  • Colon cancer screening.
  • Family history of cancer of the large intestine.
  • Disorders which has predisposition to colon cancer.
  • Chronic diarrhoea of unexplained cause
  • Abdominal pain of unexplained origin.
  • Loss of weight or appetite without obvious cause.

3. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
Sigmoidoscopy examination is similar to colonoscopy but the scope used is shorter and only distal part of the large intestine is inspected. The procedure is easier, faster and requires less vigorous bowel preparation.

Indications for flexible sigmoidoscopy:

  • Screening for colorectal cancer.
  • Rectal bleeding in individuals who are young and do not have risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Evaluation of abnormal radiological finding in the distal part of the large intestine (rectosigmoid).

4. Chromoendoscopy
Chromoendoscopy is a technique using a specialized dye spray to further enhance the endoscopic view of the gastrointestinal abnormalities. This allows accurate biopsies and diagnosis.

5. Polypectomy
Polyps are abnormal growths in the gastrointestinal tract. They can be benign or cancerous. Polypectomy is a procedure which removes polyps endoscopically for further analysis. Polypectomy will eliminate the risk of any cancerous transformation of the polyp.

Disclaimer: This is only general information. A doctor should be contacted if you need any medical advice or if medical decisions need to be made.