Endoscopy is the term used for a variety of non-surgical procedures used to examine internal parts of the body. The endoscope is a small, highly flexible tube with a minute video camera at the end.
Endoscopic procedures are performed by a variety of consultant specialists depending on the condition to be investigated. Most forms of endoscopy are undertaken at Highgate Hospital including:
- Gastroscopy - the endoscope is passed through your mouth and into either the stomach, under mild sedation. This procedure enables your consultant to identify problems in your gastrointestinal tract and, in some circumstances treat them, without surgery.
- Colonoscopy - involves inserting a long flexible tube about the thickness of a finger, into the rectum and gradually advancing it through the colon, allowing your consultant to examine the lining of your rectum, diagnose colon and rectal problems, perform biopsies and remove polyps.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy - the endoscope is passed through your rectum and into either the left, lower part of the large bowel (the sigmoid colon), under mild sedation. This procedure enables your consultant to inspect the part of the colon that empties into the rectum, identify problems and in some circumstances treat them.
Endoscopies do not usually require general anaesthetic. You may be given a sedative to help you relax but many patients choose not to as there is very little discomfort associated with endoscopic procedures. The advantage of not having a sedative is that you are discharged quickly after the procedure with no restriction on your activities for the rest of the day. This particularly applies to driving, which is not allowed until the day after your procedure if you receive a sedative injection.
Your consultant will gently guide the endoscope into your body and into the area that is being examined. If required, a small tissue sample (biopsy) can be taken using a small cutting instrument attached to the end of the endoscope. Depending on the procedure, an endoscopy can take 15-60 minutes to carry out. It will usually be performed on a daycase basis, which means that you will not have to stay in hospital overnight.