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Endoscopy is a technique used by gastroenterologists to view inside the body’s upper and lower gastrointestinal tract with an endoscope. The experts at Dignity Health offer several advanced endoscopy services and procedures using state of the art technology.


This procedure allows your physician to examine 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:

  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is a procedure to remove abnormal tissues from the digestive tract.
  • Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) is an advanced procedure to remove tumors that have not yet entered into the muscle layer.
  • Luminal stenting 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, gall bladder, or liver. In this procedure, an endoscope is passed down the throat, through the stomach, and into the first part of the small intestine. The doctor then guides a tiny tube at the end of the endoscope into the common bile duct, which connects the intestine with the pancreas. A small amount of contrast material (dye) is pushed in, and x-rays are taken. The dye helps outline the bile ducts and pancreatic duct. The x-rays can show whether the ducts are narrowed or blocked, which could be caused by a gallstone or a cancer. The doctor doing this test can also put a small brush through the tube to take out some cells for biopsy.

Endoscopic Ultrasound

This procedure involves a small transducer being placed on the tip of an endoscope and used to take a picture of abnormal cells in order to see how they may have spread. A 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 of the shorter distance the sound waves have to travel. This technique can also be used to get a tissue sample for further evaluation.

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

This procedure allows a physician to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

An EGD may be required to 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 identify many different diseases; sometimes a biopsy is taken.

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

During upper GI endoscopy, a doctor obtains biopsies by passing an instrument through the endoscope to obtain a small piece of tissue. Biopsies are needed to diagnose conditions such as:

  • cancer
  • celiac disease
  • gastritis

Doctors also use EGD to:

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

Therapeutic Uses for EGD:

  • Confocal Endomicroscopy is a powerful, miniaturized microscope used to see internal structures in precise detail allowing physicians to identify abnormal cells in real time.
  • Cryotherapy is a procedure to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue.
  • Dilation is a procedure that dilates, or enlarges, an area allowing easier swallowing.
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is a procedure to remove abnormal tissues from the digestive tract.
  • Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) is an advanced procedure to remove tumors that have not yet entered into the muscle layer.
  • Luminal stenting is a device placed within the gastrointestinal tract to keep the structure open.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is 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) is a procedure to deliver radio waves in a precise and controlled manner to burn and destroy abnormal tissue.


This procedure uses a small flexible instrument to examine the small bowel to evaluate gastrointestinal bleeding.


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


Stenting uses a device placed to increase an opening in any of the following areas:

  • colon
  • esophageal
  • pancreatico-biliary
  • small bowel

Video Capsule Endoscopy

As the name indicates, a video capsule containing tiny cameras, a light bulb, battery, and radio transmitter is swallowed. As it travels through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine it takes photographs rapidly and transmits the images to a small receiver worn by the patient. After about eight hours the photographs are downloaded from the receiver into a computer so they can be reviewed by a physician. The capsule itself is passed by the patient and flushed. 

Learn More

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