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Endoscopy is a technique used by gastroenterologists to examine the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract using an endoscope. Our experts at Dignity Health offer several advanced endoscopy services and procedures using state of the art technology.



This procedure allows your physician to inspect the inside of your colon and rectum.

A colonoscopy may be required to find the cause of certain symptoms, abnormal lab tests, or other imaging, including the following:

  • abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, or weight loss
  • abnormal changes (polyps) found on sigmoidoscopy or x-ray tests (CT scan or barium enema)
  • anemia due to low iron (usually when no other cause has been found)
  • blood in the stool, or black, tarry stools
  • follow-up of a past finding, such as polyps or colon cancer
  • inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease)

A colonoscopy may be used as a screening for colorectal cancer – Both men and women should have a colon cancer screening starting at age 50 unless otherwise directed by their physician.

Therapeutic use includes:

  • endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), a procedure to remove abnormal tissues from the digestive tract
  • endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), an advanced procedure to remove tumors that have not yet entered into the muscle layer
  • luminal stenting, which uses a device, placed within the gastrointestinal tract, to keep the structure open

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

This complex procedure helps doctors diagnose problems in the ducts of the pancreas, gallbladder, or liver. In this procedure, your doctor will pass an endoscope down your throat, through your stomach, and into the first part of your small intestine. Your doctor will then guide a tiny tube at the end of the endoscope into your common bile duct, which connects your intestine to your pancreas.

To create a clearer outline of your bile ducts and pancreatic duct, your doctor will push a small amount of contrast material (dye) inside the tube, and then take x-rays. The x-rays will show whether your ducts are narrowed or blocked, which may be due to gallstone or cancer. Your doctor may also put a small brush through the tube to take out some cells for biopsy.

Endoscopic Ultrasound

In this procedure, your doctor will place a small transducer on the tip of an endoscope and take an image of any abnormal cells to see how they may have spread. The transducer uses sound waves to detect echoes and convert this information into an image. An endoscopic ultrasound provides a better image than a standard ultrasound because its sound waves travel a shorter distance. Your doctor can also use an endoscopic ultrasound to get a tissue sample for further evaluation.

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

Your doctor can use EGD to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. An EGD can find the cause of certain symptoms or abnormal lab tests, including the following:

  • anemia
  • bleeding
  • nausea and vomiting
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • pain
  • persistent heartburn
  • problems swallowing
  • unexplained weight loss

An EGD can also identify many different diseases, including:

  • anemia
  • cancer
  • celiac disease
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • inflammation or swelling
  • precancerous abnormalities
  • ulcers

During an upper GI endoscopy, your doctor may also obtain biopsies by passing an instrument through the endoscope that can collect a small piece of tissue. Your doctor can use biopsies to diagnose certain medical conditions, including:

  • cancer
  • celiac disease
  • gastritis

Your surgeon may also use EGD to:

  • dilate strictures using a small balloon passed through the endoscope
  • remove objects such as food that may be stuck in the upper GI tract
  • treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers

Therapeutic Uses for EGD:

  • confocal endomicroscopy, a powerful, miniaturized microscope used to see internal structures in precise detail allowing physicians to identify abnormal cells in real time
  • cryotherapy, a procedure to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue
  • dilation, a procedure that dilates, or enlarges, an area allowing easier swallowing
  • endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), a procedure to remove abnormal tissues from the digestive tract
  • endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), an advanced procedure to remove tumors that have not yet entered into the muscle layer
  • luminal stenting, a device placed within the gastrointestinal tract to keep the structure open
  • optical coherence tomography (OCT), a high-resolution, cross-sectional imaging technique, similar to an ultrasound, except that OCT uses light to create images of tissue in real time rather than taking a biopsy allowing interventional procedures to be done at the same time
  • radio frequency ablation (RFA), a procedure that delivers radio waves in a precise and controlled manner to burn and destroy abnormal tissue


During this procedure, doctors use a small flexible instrument to examine your small bowel to evaluate gastrointestinal bleeding.


This is the measurement of muscle pressure within either the esophagus or anal sphincter.


In this procedure, doctors use a device to increase an opening in different areas.

The types of stenting include:

  • colon
  • esophageal
  • pancreatico-biliary
  • small bowel

Video Capsule Endoscopy

Your doctor will give you a capsule to swallow that contains tiny cameras, a light bulb, battery, and radio transmitter. As the capsule travels through your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, it will take photographs rapidly and transmit the images to a small receiver. After about eight hours, your technician will download the photographs from the receiver into a computer so that your physician can view the images. You will pass the capsule out later.

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For more information, please view our Minimally Invasive Surgery page, or call us to Find a Doctor.