The endoscope is a long, thin flexible tube with a light and high resolution camera on its end. It is able to relay images of the inside of the body to a television screen. The specialist will gently place an endoscope into the mouth, then through the oesophagus into the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond the stomach). The test usually only takes a few minutes and can be performed with local anaesthetic throat spray or under light sedation.
The operator will watch the image generated by the camera on a high definition screen. They will assess the lining of the oesophagus and stomach to look for possible abnormalities. These include Barrett’s oesophagus, evidence of inflammation caused by reflux (oesophagitis), ulcers and even cancer. They are likely to assess the size and type of a Hiatus Hernia, if present, which may determine suitability for surgery. If abnormalities are present then small samples of tissue called biopsies may be taken for analysis. Therapeutic procedures such as stretching or narrowing in the oesophagus can also be performed endoscopically.
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