Uses and Risks of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Gastrointestinal endoscopy

is used for assessing the digestive tract visually. As part of the endoscopic procedure, a flexible tube would be inserted into the digestive tract. The flexible tube, also called an endoscope has a tiny camera attached to its bottom which transmits the image that can either be viewed with an eye piece or a video screen.

Gastrointestinal endoscopy

can be used for both diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.


There are actually many imaging techniques like X-rays, MRI et., so why would one have to use an endoscope to check for the problems in the digestive tract?

As a matter of fact, the above mentioned imaging devices cannot show certain ulcers or muscle spasms, making the use of endoscopy a must. Although these imaging techniques along with ecography or barium enema can be used to study the upper abdomen, digestive tract and stomach juices, a direct look at the mucous lining is not offered by these techniques.

Endoscopy Types:

Based on digestive tract portion that is being assessed, the names of the procedure would change.


This procedure is used to diagnose or treat conditions of the small bowel. Conditions like gastrointestinal bleeding can be treated along with diagnosis. The causes for malabsorption can be obtained. It is also useful during surgical procedures to eliminate any sores without causing any damage to the healthy tissue.


This is used for diagnosing problems associated with the large bowel. Inflammation of the mucous lining, colon bleeding and ulcers can be visulaised using this procedure.


Although this endoscopic procedure is very useful for treatment and diagnosis purposes, there are a few risks associated with it.

  • During the procedure, it is likely that the heartbeat would become severely inconsistent.
  • Another risk can be infections accompanied by frequent fever.
  • In people who suffer from liver cirrhosis or other lung conditions, endoscopy can cause respiratory depression making it difficult for them to take deep breaths.
  • Although very rare, the esophagus and the walls of the stomach may get punctured during the procedure.

Other risks associated with

gastrointestinal endoscopy


  • dehydration
  • pain
  • a hole in the colon

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