Endoscopy: Definition, Medical Uses, Applications, Risks and Post-Procedure

Unlike many other medical imaging techniques, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ.

An endoscopy is used in medicine to look inside the body.

An endoscopy is a simple procedure that allows a doctor to look inside human bodies using an instrument called an endoscope .

There are many types of endoscopes. Depending on the site of the body and the type of procedure, a doctor or surgeon may perform an endoscopy. A patient can be fully conscious or anesthetized during the procedure.

Most often, the term endoscopy is used to refer to an examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract, known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy .

For non-medical use, similar instruments are called borescopes.

Medical uses

A healthcare provider can use endoscopy for any of the following:

  • Investigation of symptoms, such as digestive system symptoms including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Confirmation of a diagnosis, usually by performing a biopsy to detect conditions such as anemia, bleeding, inflammation, and cancer of the digestive system.
  • Giving treatment, such as cauterizing a bleeding vessel, widening a narrow esophagus, cutting a polyp, or removing a foreign object.

Specialized organizations that specialize in digestive problems advise that many patients with Barrett’s esophagus frequently receive endoscopies.

Such societies recommend that patients with Barrett’s esophagus and no cancer symptoms after two biopsies receive biopsies as directed and no more than the recommended frequency.

Endoscopy is used for many procedures:

  • During pregnancy.
  • The amnion (amnioscopy).
  • The fetus (fetoscopy).
  • Plastic surgery.
  • Panendoscopia (or triple endoscopia).
  • Combines laryngoscopy, esophagoscopy, and bronchoscopy.
  • Orthopedic surgery.
  • Hand surgery, such as endoscopic carpal tunnel release.
  • Knee surgery, such as anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
  • Epidural space (epiduroscopy).
  • Bursa (Bursectomia).
  • Endodontic surgery.
  • Maxillary sinus surgery.
  • Apicoectomy.
  • Cirugía endonasal endonasal.
  • Endoscopic spinal surgery.


Healthcare providers can use endoscopy to check any of the following parts of the body:

The gastrointestinal tract:

  • Esophageal oral dilator.
  • Esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (esophagogastroduodenoscopy).
  • Small intestine (enteroscopy).
  • Large intestine / colon (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy).
  • Endoscopic magnification.
  • Bile duct.
  • Rectum and anus, both also called (proctoscopy).

The respiratory tract:

  • The nose (rhinoscopy).
  • The lower respiratory tract (bronchoscopy).

Other body cavities:

  • The ear (otoscope).
  • The urinary tract (cystoscopy).

The female reproductive system (gynoscopy):

  • The cervix (colposcopy).
  • The uterus (hysteroscopy).
  • Fallopian tubes (thrombosis).

Normally closed body cavities:

  • The abdominal or pelvic cavity (laparoscopy).
  • The inside of a joint (arthroscopy).
  • Organs of the chest (thoracoscopy and mediastinoscopy).


The main risks are infection, excessive sedation, perforation or tear of the lining of the stomach or esophagus, and bleeding.

Although the perforation generally requires surgery, certain cases can be treated with antibiotics and IV fluids.

Bleeding can occur at the site of a biopsy or removal of polyps. Such typically minor bleeding can simply stop on its own or be controlled by cauterization.

Surgery rarely becomes necessary. Perforation and bleeding are rare during gastroscopy.

Other minor risks include reactions to medications and complications related to other illnesses the patient may have.

Consequently, patients should inform their physician of all allergic tendencies and medical problems.

Occasionally, the sedative injection site may become swollen and tender for a short period of time. This is generally not serious, and warm compresses for a few days are often helpful.

While any of these complications can occur, it is good to remember that each of them occurs fairly infrequently.

A physician can discuss the risks with the patient regarding the particular need for gastroscopy.

After endoscopy

After the procedure, the patient will be observed and supervised by a qualified individual in the endoscopy room or in a recovery area, until a significant portion of the medication is gone.

Occasionally, the patient has a mild sore throat, which may respond to gargling with saline or chamomile tea. It can last for weeks or not happen at all.

The patient may have a distended sensation from the insufflated air that was used during the procedure.

Both problems are minor and fleeting.

When fully recovered, the patient will be instructed when to resume their regular diet (probably within a few hours) and will be allowed to take it home.

When sedation was used, most facilities require that someone else drive the patient home and that he or she not drive or operate machinery for the remainder of the day.