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What is an endoscope?

What is an endoscope?

An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and camera at one end that enables a doctor, Consultant, nurse or practitioner to look inside your body and see real-time images on a screen in the clinic.

An endoscope can be inserted through your mouth and down the throat – or via your bottom. It all depends on which part of your digestive system the problem is in. Endoscopes can also be put inside the body during surgery through a small cut made in the skin.

What is an endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a blanket term, referring to a range of procedures conducted using an endoscope. This includes every “oscopy”; whether it's a gastroscopy, colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy - all of which we offer patients at our Joint Advisory Group (JAG) accredited endoscopy service.

Endoscopy procedures can be carried out on their own, or in conjunction with other courses of treatment to help your Consultant diagnose and observe the affected areas within your body.

Gastroscopy is a type of endoscopy used when the stomach, oesophagus or top part of the small intestine need to be examined. If the endoscope is being used to look at the bowel, it's known as a colonoscopy.

There are many other types of endoscopy, such as bronchoscopy, cystoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and more - all used to examine various parts of the body.

How does an endoscope work?

An endoscope is also used in keyhole surgery. For example, in the case of surgery to repair a hernia (a gastrointestinal condition), the endoscope is passed into the body via a small cut made in the skin. The actual repair is then made through the endoscope.

Keyhole surgery means your Consultant can operate without having to make large cuts and this form of surgery helps reduce the time it takes for healing to take place afterwards.

The endoscope is also used when a biopsy is taken from inside the body. The forceps that take the sample are passed into the body, again via the endoscope, and the surgeon then removes small samples of tissue for it to be looked at more closely.

An endoscope works by feeding a high-definition live video of the various areas from inside of the body. An Endoscopist will then view these images to identify the problem.
Endoscopes are a brilliant example of modern medicine, and make these type of observations much less invasive, less time consuming and far less painful. As a relatively quick and safe procedure, endoscopy works best when used to either diagnose or treat a huge range of health issues from cancer to arthroscopy.

What are endoscopes used for?

Endoscopes are used for:

  • Investigating unusual symptoms.
  • Supporting diagnosis
  • Assisting Consultants when performing certain types of ‘keyhole’ surgery

Endoscopes are used when investigating a range of unusual or inconclusive symptoms such as:

  • Being sick regularly
  • Having diarrhoea
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Stomach pain that doesn’t go away or keeps returning
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Suffering from regular heartburn or indigestion

Endoscopes can diagnose the following health conditions which we can subsequently provide treatment for at our hospital:

  • Crohn's disease and Colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Helicobacter (pylori)
  • Oesophageal Stricture and Dilatation
  • Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers
  • Stomach Cancer and Oesophageal Cancer
  • Heartburn or Barrett’s Oesophagus
  • Liver Disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Portal Hypertension
  • Polyps
  • Ulcers and tumours of the lower intestine

Access our endoscopy service for a fast diagnosis

Find out how to access endoscopy services as a self-pay patient. For more information about endoscopy procedures, get in touch using our online enquiry form or contact our Private Patient Team via Livechat or on 01580 363158.

Published on 11 September 2020