What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy (en-DAHS-kuh-pee) is a medical procedure done with an instrument called an endoscope (EN-duh-skop). The endoscope is put into the body to look inside, and is sometimes used for certain kinds of surgery.

Looking with an endoscope is different from using imaging tests, like x-rays and CT scans, which can get pictures of the inside the body without putting tools or devices into it.

There are many different kinds of endoscopes, or “scopes.” Most are like thin, hollow tubes that a doctor uses to look right into the body. Most are lighted, and some have a small video camera on the end that puts pictures on a computer screen. Endoscopes are different lengths and shapes. Some are stiff, while others are flexible. There’s a new one small enough to be swallowed, which can send images wirelessly. Each type is specially designed for looking at a certain part of the body.

Depending on the area of the body being looked at, the endoscope may be put in the mouth, anus, or urethra (your-EE-thruh) (the tube that carries urine out of the bladder). Sometimes, it’s put through a small incision (cut) made in the skin.

Some types of endoscopes and the areas of the body they view

Type of endoscope

Put in through

Body part or area(s) looked at

Name(s) of procedure

Arthroscope

Cuts in the skin

Joints

Arthroscopy

Bronchoscope

Mouth or nose

Trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (tubes going to the lungs)

Bronchoscopy, flexible bronchoscopy

Colonoscope

Anus

Colon and large intestine

Colonoscopy, lower endoscopy

Cystoscope

Urethra

Bladder

Cystoscopy, cystourethroscopy

Enteroscope

Mouth or anus

Small intestine

Enteroscopy

Esophagogastro-duodenoscope

Mouth

Esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, and duodenum (first part of small intestine)

Esophagogastro-duodenoscopy (EGD), upper endoscopy, panendoscopy, gastroscopy

Hysteroscope

Vagina

Inside of uterus

Hysteroscopy

Laparoscope

Cut(s) in the abdomen (belly)

Space inside abdomen and pelvis

Laparoscopy, peritoneal endoscopy

Laryngoscope

Mouth or nose

Larynx (voice box)

Laryngoscopy

Mediastinoscope

Cut(s) above the sternum (breastbone)

Mediastinum (space between the lungs)

Mediastinoscopy

Sigmoidoscope, flexible sigmoidoscope

Anus

Rectum and sigmoid colon (lower part of large intestine)

Sigmoidoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, proctosigmoidoscopy

Thoracoscope

Cut(s) in the chest

Space between lungs and chest wall

Thoracoscopy,
pleuroscopy

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: February 3, 2015 Last Revised: February 23, 2015

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