Endoscopy is medical processes that allow a doctor to monitor the inside of the body without performing major surgery. An endoscope (fiberscope) is a long, generally flexible tube with a lens at one end and a telescope at the other. The end with the lens is inserted into the patient. Light passes down the tube (via bundles of optical fibers) to illumine the pertinent region and the telescopic eyepiece magnifies the area so the doctor can see what is there. Generally, an endoscope is inserted through one of the body's natural openings, such as the mouth, urethra or anus. Some endoscopies may require a small incision through the skin, and are usually performed under general or local anaesthetic.
Specially designed endoscopes are used to perform simple surgical procedures,such as:
- Tying a woman's fallopian tubes.
- Locating, sampling or removing foreign objects or tumors from the lungs and digestive tract.
- Removing the gallbladder.
- Taking small samples of tissue for diagnostic purposes.
A range of endoscopes
- Arthroscope - inserted through a small incision to examine a skeletal joint.
- Bronchoscope - inserted down the trachea to examine the lung.
- Colonoscope - inserted through the anus to examine the colon.
- Gastroscope - inserted down the oesophagus to examine the stomach.
- Hysteroscope - inserted through the cervix to examine the uterus.
- Laparoscope - inserted through a small incision to examine the abdominal organs.
The exact process used depends on the what kind of endoscopy and option of anaesthesia. You may have local or general anaesthetic. If you have local anaesthetic, you can expect light sedation to help keep you relaxed and comfortable. The endoscope is inserted through a natural opening or small incision. The doctor may look at the area under investigation directly, through the endoscope, or view transmitted pictures appearing on a nearby monitor. The doctor may simply make a diagnosis, or could perform minor surgery at the same time. For example, a perforation may be stitched closed or a diseased organ (such as the gallbladder) removed. Alternatively, your doctor may take a sample of tissue (biopsy) for later analysis in a laboratory. Once the endoscopy is complete, the endoscope is removed. Any incision is sutured (sewn) closed.
After the endoscopy, you can expect:
- In most cases, you are kept under observation for just an hour or so.
- If you have been given general anaesthetic, you are monitored for much longer.
- Some types of endoscopy, such as laparoscopy, require an overnight hospital stay to make sure all is well.
- You are given pain relief, if necessary.
- You need someone else to drive you home, or else catch a taxi, because of the effects of medication during surgery.
Possible complications of endoscopy include:
- Perforation of an organ
- Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
- Infection of the incision
- Numbness at the incision site
- Allergic reaction to the anaesthesia.