Endoscopy is generally performed by a gastroenterologist, a physician who specializes in diseases of the digestive tract. Different types of endoscopic procedures help evaluate, and sometimes treat, a variety of symptoms and conditions. These include:
- Stomach pain
- Bleeding in the esophagus or stomach
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ulcers and polyps in the colon
Endoscopy can also help diagnose and treat small cancers or reduce or control symptoms caused by cancer.
Common to all endoscopic procedures is the endoscope itself – a long, thin, flexible tube with an attached lighted camera. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth or rectum, depending upon the type of endoscopy needed. Tissue samples (biopsy) can be obtained through an endoscope.
Endoscopy services available at Inova Health System hospitals include the following (services may vary by location).
Bronchoscopy is used to view and examine the airways.
A flexible colonoscope is inserted through the rectum into the colon to allow the physician to view the entire length of the large intestine. During a colonoscopy, the physician examines the lining of the colon and may remove tissue for further examination or treat problems discovered during the procedure.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
This procedure combines X-ray imaging and the use of an endoscope to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. The endoscope is carefully guided through the mouth and esophagus, into the stomach and duodenum. Dye injected through a tube in the scope highlights the internal organs and makes them more clearly visible on an X-ray.
Also called EGD or upper endoscopy, during this exam the physician examines the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. An endoscope is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
This advanced technology allows a physician to examine the entire small intestine. Patients swallow a vitamin-sized “capsule” which is actually a tiny camera and light. The capsule moves through the intestine and transmits images to a data recorder worn at the patient's waist. The capsule is disposable and passes naturally with a bowel movement.
Capsule endoscopy is not a substitute for regular endoscopy, but may be used when additional diagnostic information is needed. Capsule endoscopy is offered at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and Inova Fairfax Hospital.