A colonoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss.
An upper GI endoscopy, also called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to diagnose swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain or chest pain.
An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram, or ERCP, is a procedure that combines the use of a flexible, lighted scope (endoscope) with X-ray pictures to examine the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Certain problems identified during the procedure can be treated at the same time. If an abnormal growth is seen, a sample of the tissue can be taken for further testing (biopsy). The doctor may be able to remove some gallstones. A narrowed bile duct can be opened by inserting a small wire-mesh or plastic tube, called a stent, through the endoscope and into the duct.
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