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What Is an Endoscopic Examination?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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An endoscopic examination provides a view inside the body with the use of a camera attached to tubing that is inserted into the area of interest. In a bronchoscopy, for example, a medical professional uses the instrument to look into the airways. Such procedures can be useful for diagnostic purposes and to collect more general information about a patient’s condition. It may be possible to collect samples for biopsy and further examination during an endoscopy.

Numerous types of endoscope are used in medical facilities. Endoscopic examination can involve rigid or flexible tubing with a small light attached to the camera to provide illumination. The best choice of tubing depends on the area under examination, the reason for the test, and the preference of the person performing it. Rigid tubes tend to be less comfortable, but may be the only option in some cases.

Before an endoscopic examination, a patient may receive sedation or anesthesia for comfort. The patient also needs to be carefully positioned to allow the tube to be inserted effectively. Endoscopies can be used to examine the gastrointestinal tract, airways, and sinus passages, along other cavities and internal organs. Positioning can help pull structures into alignment to make it easier to pass the tube along and see once it arrives at the desired destination.

In the test itself, the camera provides constant feedback on the location of the tube and illuminates abnormalities like lesions. Biopsy samples can be taken from these areas for examination by a pathologist. Once the endoscopy camera arrives at the target location, it can be rotated to provide a complete and detailed view. Magnification on a screen next to the patient allows the care provider to carefully evaluate the entire area, coordinate to take samples, and check for issues like bleeding and scarring.

After an endoscopic examination, the patient can discuss the test results. It may take several days to hear back on a biopsy, but abnormal findings such as lesions can be discussed immediately. Patients may need to wait to hear the biopsy results before making decisions about how to proceed with treatment. Sometimes lesions are benign and don’t require any specific action.

Endoscopies are often recorded for reference. Patients who are curious can ask to see the recording, and a physician can point out specific signs that are causes for concern, like polyps or ulcerations. This can help patients understand the findings of the endoscopic examination in more detail.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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