Pediatric Advanced Endoscopy

U.S. News

Recent advances in endoscopy enable our pediatric gastroenterology team to avoid surgery for diagnosing and treating several conditions that once required it. Minimally invasive endoscopic procedures can enable shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries, and better overall outcomes. Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s extraordinary focus on endoscopic treatments for children gives us key clinical advantages over other centers where their adult-focused endoscopy teams treat even their youngest patients.

What is advanced endoscopy?

An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tool with a tiny video camera and light source on one end. It can be passed into the GI tract through the mouth or the rectum to examine and diagnose gastrointestinal conditions. The endoscope can also be equipped with tiny tools that enable physicians to take biopsies, drain fluids, insert stents, and conduct other medical procedures. Some of these treatments can even reach outside the gastrointestinal tract to examine and treat lymph nodes, for example, or to drain fluid that has collected in or around the pancreas.

Endoscopy is any minimally invasive medical procedure that primarily uses an endoscope to diagnose or treat a medical problem. Historically, endoscopy was mainly used for diagnostic purposes, to investigate parts of the body that are hard to reach without surgery. Today, a small group of specially trained pediatric gastroenterologists are also using endoscopy to perform advanced therapeutic procedures. “Advanced endoscopy” is a term used to describe therapeutic procedures in which endoscopy is a primary tool, including endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), stent placements, and endoscopic resections, among others.

Why Stanford Medicine Children's Health?

Very few hospitals have physicians trained specifically in advanced endoscopy for children. Our pediatric experts perform procedures on infants as small as 2 – 3 months. Even rarer are centers like ours that are prepared to use both endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). Furthermore, because we also have an extraordinarily robust, pediatric-focused interventional radiology program, we are able to do still more complex procedures than most other centers. This minimally invasive approach not only avoids surgery, but also eliminates external drains in children.

While gastroenterologists elsewhere, who mainly treat adults, will sometimes conduct advanced endoscopy on children, our specialized training, extensive pediatric experience, and extraordinary technology enable our team to perform procedures that are not typically done on children. We diligently track outcomes and complications on all our advanced cases to better serve our patients.

Research on advanced endoscopy

We are currently studying risks, benefits, outcomes, predictors of success and challenges for each of the procedures we do. This includes working on decreasing fluoroscopy exposure in children. We have several prospective and retrospective clinical studies to deepen pediatric endoscopy knowledge and enhance patient care. This expanding knowledge base will enhance care for children and adolescents undergoing endoscopy at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and throughout the world.

Because so many more adults than children have an endoscopy, the current generation of equipment was made with adult dimensions and conditions in mind. At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, we are designing and developing smaller instruments and scopes specifically for use with children. We also are working hard to expand advanced endoscopy to pediatrics in areas that until now have been restricted to adults.

Learn about our endoscopic procedures >