An endoscope is a tube-like instrument a doctor can use to look into body areas and perfrom treatments, either by inserting it through a natural body opening or through a small opening made for this purpose. Endoscopy is the act of inspection and treatment inside the body with the use of an endoscope, and by 2014 endoscopy can be performed inside all body areas. Endoscopes can be flexible and even made to bend in several directions so that they follow the natural paths of channels inside the body or they can be rigid, which means that the channels inside the body must be be made to streighten more or less during insertion. Eventually one will also be able to make endoscopes that can creep like a worm inhrough channels in the body.
An endoscope consists of a tubular part, and a base containing an eyepiece, illumination lamp, controle handles and a connection to power supply and possible also a computer. Through the tube there is a channel to lead water, air or gas into the body, a channel to let out gas or fluid, a channel to insert thin instruments and a fiber to lead light to illuminate the inner area one works on. At the end of the tube, there is a small digital camera.
Typical tasks performed with an endoscope are: Inspecting and taking pictures of the inside of an area, pumping up an inner area with air, gas or water to get a better view, flushing an inside cavity in the body, instiling medicines, doing simple surgical work, taking specimens and doing all kind of measurements. The connection to a computer and a screen, makes it possible to record everything seen and to show everything for all in the room at the screen.
Before endoscopy, the inside cavity must often be cleaned out for content. By endoscopy, one must provide that the patient does not feel any pain and is relaxed. Often this can be achieved simply by instructing the patient to relax and working very cautiously. Usually the patient will be given some relaxing medication, pain-killing medicine, deeper sedation or even general anesthesia. The reason for giving deeper sedation or general anesthesia is not usually to take away pain, but to hinder the patient from remembering the procedure and telling others about it. General anesthesia is especially often used when a child or teen is examined endoscopically through the intimate body openings.
These are some common types of endoscopy performed:
Rectoscopy or proctoscopy is the examination and treatment inside the rectal cavity through an inserted rigid instrument. Often the instrument is simply a hollow disposable tube, and illumination and magnification is done with external lamps and optical devices.
Sigmoidoscopy is the examination of the rectum and terminal part of the colon, the colon sigmoidum. The instrument used is often also here just a hollow tube, but often one uses a 50 cm long endoscope that can be actively flexed, and with channels to let in and out gas and fluid, to insert other instruments and to take specimens.
Colonoscopy is the examination and treatment of the colon in all its length, and even the terminal part of the small intestine can be included in the exam. One uses a flexible endoscope of the same kind as the flexible sigmoidoscopes, but it is much longer.
Cystoscopy is an exam and treatment of the urethra and bladder with a rigid or flexible endoscope with several channels. Whith special endoscopes one can go all the way up to each kidney, a procedure called uretheroscopy.
Arthroscopy is examination and surgical treatments inside a joint by means of an endoscope. The joint can be in the knee, shoulder, elbow, hip or anywhere else.
Laparoscopy is the examination and treatment inside the stomach area with an endoscope which has been inserted through a hole made in the abdominal wall.
Rhinoscopy is endoscopic handlings in the nasal cavity.
Bronchoscopy is endoscopic handlings in the airpipe, that is the trakea and the bronks.
By aesophagoscopy one inserts an endoscope down the throut towards the stomach.
Endoscopes are not only used in medicine. Steadily more endoscopes are used to inspect the inside of mashines to see if something is wrong, for example to inspect the inside of a car motor or other car parts.
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