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Difference Between Colonoscopy and Endoscopy

Colonoscopy vs Endoscopy

Endoscope is a name for the common devices that have a light source and help to visualise the organ/ body cavity. When it is used to visualise the stomach and early part of intestine, it is named as upper GI endoscope. However, now people use the word endoscope for Upper GI endoscope. If an endoscope used to see the lung tubes, then it is named as bronchoscope. When it is designed to see the throat it is named as laryngoscope. When used to see the colon (the large intestine) it is named as colonoscope. When it is designed to see the uterus, then it is named as hyterescope. When used to see the abdomen in a surgery, it named as laparoscope.

Earlier endoscopes were rigid metal tubes. Due to that tissue damages were high and the distance of visualisation was less. With the fibre optic light source, the flexible endoscopes came to play. Now almost all endoscopes are flexible endoscopes. The basic structure of an endoscope is a camera at the end of a tube with a light source and a biopsy needle that will help to take the tissue samples.

Endoscopy is the procedure to visualise the food canal using endoscope. The upper GI endoscopy is now commonly referred as Endoscopy. In this procedure, the patient will swallow the endoscope and the camera will show the wall of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (a part of small intestine). Peptic ulcers and cancers can be visualised directly and if needed the tissue samples also can be taken. Endoscopes reduce the need of open surgeries to take biopsy. For upper GI endoscope, usually no special preparation is needed. The patient can return home immediately after the procedure.

Colonoscope is used to visualise large intestine. This procedure is called as colonoscopy and colonoscope will be inserted from the anus. As we know, large bowel may have faecal matter. So bowel cleaning may be needed prior to colonoscopy. But patient can be sent home after the procedure.

In summary,

  • Both endoscopy and colonoscopy are the procedures to visualise the gastro intestinal path (Food canal).
  • The differences are endoscopy will be inserted from the mouth; colonoscopy will be inserted from the anus.
  • Unlike in colonoscopy, bowel preparation is not needed to do the endoscopy.


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