Endoscopy typically refers to looking inside the body for medical reasons using an endoscope, an instrument used to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body. Unlike most other medical imaging devices, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ.

There are many types of endoscopes. Depending on the site in the body and type of procedure an endoscopy may be performed either by a doctor or a surgeon. A patient may be fully conscious or anaesthetised during the procedure.


An endoscope can consist of:

  • A rigid or flexible tube.
  • A light delivery system to illuminate the organ or object under inspection. The light source is normally outside the body and the light is typically directed via an optical fiber system.
  • A lens system transmitting the image from the objective lens to the viewer, typically a relay lens system in the case of rigid endoscopes or a bundle of fiber optics in the case of afiberscope.
  • An Eyepiece-Modern instruments may be video-scopes with no eyepiece a camera transmits image to a screen for image capture.
  • An additional channel to allow entry of medical instruments or manipulators.

The procedure requires sedation which includes its own risks including permanent cognitive impairments.


A health care provider may use endoscopy for any of the following:

  • Investigation of symptoms, such as symptoms in the digestive system including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Confirmation of a diagnosis is most commonly by performing a biopsy to check for conditions such as anaemia, bleeding, inflammation and cancers of the digestive system.
  • giving treatment such as cauterization of a bleeding vessel, widening a narrow esophagus, clipping off a polyp or removing a foreign object.
  • Specialty professional organizations which specialize in digestive problems advise that many patients with Barrett’s esophagus are too frequently receiving endoscopies. Such societies recommend that patient with Barrett’s esophagus and no cancer symptoms after two biopsies receive biopsies as indicated and no more often than the recommended rate.


Health care providers can use endoscopy to review any of the following body parts:

  • The gastrointestinal tract
  • Oesophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine/ colon
  • Bile duct
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, duodenoscope-assisted cholangiopancreatoscopy, intraoperative cholangioscopy
  • Rectum and anus (Anoscopy), both also referred to as
  • The respiratory tract
  • The nose
  • The lower respiratory tract
  • The ear
  • The urinary tract (Cystoscopy)
  • The female reproductive system
  • The cervix
  • The uterus
  • The fallopian tubes
  • Normally closed body cavities :
  • The abdominal or pelvic cavity (Laparoscopy)
  • The interior of a joint
  • Organs of the chest