Types of Procedures and Instructions

An endoscope is a flexible tube that has a small camera and headlight, and is attached to a TV monitor.  Gastroenterologists use endoscopes to see the inside of your gastrointestinal tract, take biopsies of any abnormal areas, and remove polyps.  Sedative and pain medications are used to keep you comfortable.  Most people do not remember having their procedure. There are multiple types of endoscopic procedures:

  • A colonoscopy looks inside the large intestine (colon) for possible polyps, cancers, and other conditions.  This test is commonly performed for colorectal cancer screening.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (standard prep; Spanish version here) and here (miralax prep; Spanish version here).
  • An EGD (upper endoscopy) is a test to examine the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine.  It can be performed for various reasons, including difficulty swallowing, heartburn, abdominal pain, and bleeding.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).
  • An enteroscopy is similar to an upper endoscopy, but uses a specialized tube to examine deeper portions of the small intestine.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).
  • During an ERCP the gastroenterologist injects dye into the bile ducts and pancreas, and then takes x-rays.  Afterwards specific treatments may be administered directly through the endoscope. Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).  We perform ERCPs at UNC Medical Center only.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test to look inside the last portion of the colon (sigmoid colon) and rectum.  Some patients choose to do this test without sedative medications.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (miralax prep; Spanish version here) and here (enema prep; Spanish version here).
  • Infra-red coagulation therapy (IRC) is a non-surgical treatment of hemorrhoids.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).  We perform IRC at UNC Endoscopy Center at Meadowmont only.
  • During a lower EUS the gastroenterologist passes an endoscope with a small ultrasound attachment to examine the walls of the rectum and colon (large intestine), as well as the surrounding structures.  If indicated a type of biopsy called fine needle aspiration, can be performed.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).  We perform lower EUS at UNC Medical Center only.
  • An ostomy exam is to examine the inside a surgical ostomy as well as the remaining colon and/or ileum.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).
  • A pouch exam is used to examine the inside of a surgical J-pouch.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).
  • An upper EUS is identical to a lower EUS, except that upper EUS focuses on the walls of the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine), as well as the surrounding structures (including lymph nodes, masses, and the pancreas).  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).  We perform upper EUS at UNC Medical Center only.
  • A video capsule endoscopy (VCE) involves swallowing a capsule the size of a large vitamin pill.  The capsule then takes multiple pictures of the small intestine, and transmits these images to a recorder that the patient wears around his/her waist.  The video capsule is disposable and will usually pass out with bowel movement within 24-48 hours.  Additional information and complete instructions are available here (Spanish version here).  We perform capsule endoscopy at UNC UNC Medical Center only.  Sometimes a physician will first request a patency capsule to determine if it is safe to proceed to a capsule endoscopy test (described here).