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If your doctor refers you for an endoscopic procedure, you probably have questions, and may be nervous. Rest assured you are in good hands with the gastroenterologists at Baystate Health.

What is an Endoscopy?

An endoscope is basically a long tube with tiny camera attached to the tip. While various types of medical specialists use endoscopes in their procedures, gastroenterologists use the endoscope to get a look inside your digestive tract.

During an upper endoscopy, you are sedated. The doctor then inserts the tube through your mouth down into your stomach and upper digestive tract. During a lower endoscopy – more commonly called a colonoscopy – the tube is inserted through your rectum into your colon.

Endoscopy for Diagnosis and Treatment

Endoscopy is used to diagnose a problem, but it can also be used as a treatment for some conditions. Tiny attachments on the scope can be used to painlessly collect tissue samples that can then be tested in the lab. It can also be used to remove polyps or other small growths or to remove foreign objects (for example, if someone accidentally swallows something and it becomes lodged in the esophagus).

Whichever endoscopic procedure you require, we will carefully explain what you can expect. You will either be sedated or have anesthesia during the procedure, so you will be comfortable throughout. After the procedure, the doctor will talk to you about how it went.

Types of Endoscopy Procedures

There are several types of endoscopies your doctor may request, including three types of upper endoscopies and two lower:


There are several reasons your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy. It may be needed to help diagnose a problem or illness, such as colitis. It is also the best screening tool for colon cancer.

Colonoscopies for cancer screening are recommended for all adults beginning at age 50, and then approximately every 10 years after that, unless your doctor recommends that you have them more often, or start them sooner.

Many people are nervous about having a colonoscopy, but the test itself is painless as you will be under sedation. The test does require a fair amount of preparation, and it is important that you follow the preparation directions your doctor recommends.

If you have an upcoming colonoscopy procedure, you can download preparation instructions.


A sigmoidoscopy is a shortened version of a colonoscopy in which only the “sigmoid” part of the colon (extending from your rectum up to about the first turn of the colon) is inspected. Sigmoidoscopies are often used to monitor colonic inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis. Preparation for a sigmoidoscopy is less intensive than the one for a colonoscopy, but it’s still important that you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

An EGD is a type of upper endoscopy. During an EGD, the doctor carefully inspects your esophagus, stomach, and part of your upper intestine. This procedure is used to diagnose and sometimes treat problems in this area, such as acid reflux (GERD), gastric or duodenal ulcers, difficulty swallowing, unexplained chest or abdominal pain, weight loss, or anemia.

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

EUS can be performed either as an upper or lower endoscopy, depending on what area of your digestive tract your doctor needs to see. In this procedure, the endoscope includes both a camera and ultrasound technology. This helps the doctor assess tissues below the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

The ultrasound component uses sound waves to create a picture of the underlining tissues to assess possible tumors of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and colon. Using the EUS, your doctor can identify tumors accurately and determine the best treatment options for you.

Endoscopic ultrasound can also be used to evaluate abdominal pain and diseases of the pancreas (such as pancreatitis) and gallbladder (like gallstones and bile duct obstructions).

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

ERCP is a specialized type of upper endoscopy used to evaluate the bile duct, pancreas, and gallbladder. The doctor inserts the endoscope though your mouth and into the first part of your small bowel.

ERCP allows your doctor to diagnose, treat, and document any abnormalities including gallstones, cancer, cysts, and strictures in the bile or pancreatic duct.

Some preparation is required before this procedure, and it is important you follow the instructions from your doctor carefully.