Endoscopy: The Gateway to Diagnosing Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders continue to be one of the prevalent causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide and Singapore is no exception. A one-day morbidity survey conducted in Singapore in 2001 reveals that diarrhoea and gastritis occupied the 4th and 8th spots among the top ten primary care conditions. Moreover, colorectal cancer was the second-highest cause of cancer mortality in Singapore between 1998 and 2002.

Digestive disorders are caused in the internal organs, especially the digestive tract. As such, it becomes obvious to have a clear view of what has happened there. Endoscopy is a great technique for that. This article aims to dwell on various endoscopy treatment facts for a better understanding.

A brief history

Endoscopy means to look inside the body. It was developed by John Macintyre in 1894/5 by Dr John Macintyre at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland. In this process, a self-illuminated tool is inserted through the body orifice for examining the interiors of a hollow organ or body cavity with a purpose to investigate, confirm, and treat the disorder. As the doctors can see the inside it brought a dramatic change in the treatment regimen.

What is endoscopy?

This is a non-surgical procedure for examining the digestive tract of humans. It is done with endoscopes that feature a thin flexible tube provided with a camera and guiding light for viewing the images on a monitor. This is broadly divided into two categories: Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy.


This is also called OGD or upper endoscopy. In this procedure, the endoscope is inserted through the mouth for examining the esophagus lining, stomach, and duodenum.


This is performed to examine the large intestine and the lower part of the small intestine. The tool used is called colonoscope and it is inserted through the anal passage for examining the colon lining.

Who needs an endoscopy?

Persons suffering from frequent heart-burns, persistent tummy pain, swallowing difficulties, indigestion, bowel habit changes, unintentional weight loss, and rectal bleeding are recommended to undergo endoscopy. Sometimes, this is also done to check the probable passing of gallstones into the bile duct.

How to prepare for the procedure?

Endoscopy is a day-care procedure. But different endoscopies have different requirements and, therefore, one should strictly follow the doctor’s instructions.

Usually, the patient needs to fast for around 12 hours for endoscopy. But the requirement varies depending on the exact procedure. The patient is also given laxatives the previous night to get the system cleared for gut examination.

Sometimes a sedative is provided for endoscopy and general anesthesia is done for very young children and for performing complex procedures. On should discuss all medications, supplements, and any previous examination with the doctor.

Risk and recovery

Endoscopy is a relatively safe procedure. But there are certain risks. Some feel pain in the area, mild cramping and reaction to sedation. Although rare, there is also a chance of puncturing the GI tract. Some patients also have complications due to pre-existing conditions. Recovery after endoscopy depends on the procedure. Usually, the patient is observed, for an hour or so, before releasing.

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