Endoscopy as it pertains to the gastroenterology specialty involves passage of a scope or flexible instrument through a natural body orifice. The scope has a powerful fiberoptic light source and camera to aid in visualization and guide it’s passage. The scope can be passed through the mouth into the esophagus or food pipe and further into the stomach and small intestine. This is called an esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy or EGD for short. In other cases, it can be passed through the rectum into the colon which is called a colonoscopy. A shorter version of a colonoscopy is called a sigmoidoscopy during which the scope is only passed to the rectum and lower left side of the patient’s colon.
The upper endoscopy or EGD has other variants, namely an endoscopic retrograde cholangio- pancreatography or ERCP for short and Endoscopic Ultrasound or EUS. The former is designed to investigate and treat disorders of the bile and/or pancreatic ducts which are small drainage tubes responsible for drainage of bile and pancreatic juice from the liver and pancreas respectively. EUS is used to perform an ultrasound of internal organs like the gallbladder, bile duct and pancreas. This enables us to detect abnormalities that could be missed by cross sectional imaging like a CT or MRI. This also enables us to sample abnormal masses/tumors/cysts involving these organs. The ERCP procedure is used to remove stones stuck in the bile duct/pancreatic duct and place stents across narrowed ducts to help with drainage.
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