Health care professionals have a range of methods, including x-rays and surgery, to help them diagnose what’s going on inside your body. A method used to get a closer look at part of your digestive system is called an endoscopy.

What is Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy?

There are several types of endoscopy. For doctors examining the gastrointestinal system, there is one main type of endoscopy: the upper gastrointestinal (UGI) endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy. An endoscope—a thin, flexible instrument—is inserted through the mouth and throat. The camera on the endoscope allows your doctor to look at the interior lining of your esophagus, your stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). The endoscope helps doctors find ulcers, inflammation, tumors, infection, or bleeding; biopsy tissue; remove polyps; and treat bleeding.

Reasons for Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Endoscopy is useful to help diagnose a variety of conditions, including:

  • Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) or the stomach (gastritis)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Narrowing of the esophagus
  • Enlarged and swollen veins in the esophagus or stomach
  • Barrett's esophagus, a condition that increases the risk for developing esophageal cancer.
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Ulcers, including stomach ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Find the cause of vomiting blood, upper abdominal pain or bloating, trouble swallowing, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, or infection
  • Inspect the stomach and upper small intestine post-surgery
  • Look for blockages and injuries

What is Video Capsule Endoscope?

Video capsule endoscopy is allows your health care team to look closely at the small intestine to help discover sources of bleeding. Similar to an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a video capsule endoscopy works with a small, inch-long capsule that you swallow. Inside the capsule is a camera, which travels through your gastrointestinal tract, taking and transmitting pictures over a several-hour period.

Why is Video Capsule Endoscopy Used?

Video capsule endoscopy differs from traditional endoscopy in a few important ways. It:

  • shows the entire small intestine
  • is not invasive and is painless
  • does not require a hospital stay and requires little preparation
  • may be more helpful in diagnosing Crohn's disease

What is Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram?

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram, or ERCP, is a useful endoscopic procedure that uses both an endoscope and an x-ray to examine the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Like a traditional endoscopic procedure, an ERCP is inserted into the mouth and throat; it may also be used as treatment and biopsy as well as diagnosis.

Why is ERCP Used?

Every endoscopic procedure has its own specialty. In the case of ERCP, this test can help to:

  • check persistent abdominal pain or jaundice
  • find gallstones or diseases of the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas
  • remove problem-causing gallstones from the common bile duct
  • open a narrowed bile duct or insert a drain
  • obtain tissue for biopsy
  • measure bile duct pressure

Get Started

Talk to your primary care doctor about scheduling your colonoscopy. You can learn more about conditions we treat, procedures we offer and instructions for preparing for your procedure at Mary Greeley Medical Center on our Gastroenterology (GI) Services page.

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