Endoscopic Procedures

Endoscopy is used to diagnose and sometimes treat a variety of conditions in the GI tract and is often where doctors start when trying to find answers to concerning symptoms. There are two main types of endoscopy—upper and lower—along with capsule endoscopy.

What is an upper endoscopy?

In this procedure, an endoscope is inserted in the mouth to help find answers to such symptoms as abdominal pain, chest pain, reflux, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, swallowing problems, weight loss, failure to thrive in babies, and bleeding. An upper scope reaches the esophagus, stomach, and top of the small intestine. Other names for an upper endoscopy include esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), gastroscopy, and esophagoscopy.

What is a lower endoscopy?

In this procedure, better known as colonoscopy, a scope inserted in the rectum takes thousands of pictures in succession to provide a thorough view of the rectum, colon, and end of the small intestine. Taking biopsies helps pediatric gastroenterologists to diagnose diseases and find the root cause of abdominal pain, blood in stool, general fatigue, or weight loss, among other symptoms. Along with taking biopsies, a lower endoscopy can be used to treat disease, including removing small growths, polyps, and other lesions. A sigmoidoscopy is another type of lower endoscopy, allowing a view of the first few inches of the colon.

What is a capsule endoscopy?

While this type of endoscopy cannot take biopsies to help doctors diagnose, it’s the easiest, least invasive option for providing a detailed view of the small intestine, with the benefit of reaching parts of the small intestine that other types of endoscopy cannot reach. Doctors use capsule endoscopy to visually assess the small bowel for inflammation or disease, including Crohn’s disease, tumors, and bleeding. It’s often used as a bridge to advanced endoscopy procedures.

The capsule is the size of a large pill and contains a micro-camera that sends video clips and high-definition photos to a device worn on the child’s belt as it moves through the small intestine. It records for eight hours and can be expelled naturally. While the procedure is safe and painless, it does require a child to be able to swallow a large pill.