MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has expertise in all aspects of the digestive system. Our doctors have access to the latest diagnostic and treatment technology available for gastrointestinal illnesses. This enables us to consistently produce exceptional success rates and provide a range of endoscopic treatment. With a specialized staff and a dedicated procedure suite, the Endoscopy Center at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is designed for our patients’ convenience and comfort. We take care of the preparation, procedure, recovery, and discharge in our GI Endoscopy suite.
The term “endoscopy” refers to several procedures that use an endoscope – a small, flexible tube with a built-in light and camera on its tip. Using the endoscope, the physician can examine a patient’s digestive tract to screen for problems like polyps or tumors, determine the source of gastrointestinal bleeding, or remove foreign bodies. The images from the scope are displayed on a high definition, flat-panel screen so that the team can spot problem areas or take tissue samples for biopsy.
Types of Endoscopies
There are two types of endoscopy. In an upper endoscopy, also called an esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy (EGD), the physician examines the inner lining of the patient’s esophagus, stomach, and the top part of the intestine (duodenum). In a lower endoscopy, also called colonoscopy, the physician examines the lining of the patient’s colon and rectum. Endoscopies are most often diagnostic procedures, although they can be used in interventional procedures as well. Generally, healthy people age 50 and older with no family history of colorectal cancer should receive routine screening colonoscopies. Your doctor can tell you when you should get a colonoscopy.
Enteroscopy (Small Bowel Endoscopy)
The small intestine is roughly 25 feet long. To examine it requires specialized techniques and long instruments known as enteroscopes. An enteroscopy allows the visualization of the entire length of the small intestine using balloon and double balloon technology, which can allow your physician to identify the cause of unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding, small bowel tumors, and other possible conditions.
Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) and Fine Needle Aspiration
EUS combines endoscopy and ultrasound, which uses sound waves to generate an image on a monitor. A tiny ultrasound transducer is mounted on the tip of the endoscope, allowing the physician to obtain high-quality ultrasound images from inside the body. Our extensive expertise in endoscopic ultrasound can be used to:
- Detect, biopsy, and stage tumors anywhere in the GI tract
- Assess esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, and rectal cancers
- Detect common bile duct stones
Additionally, under ultrasound guidance, a fine needle can be passed down the endoscope into an enlarged lymph node or suspicious mass. The needle removes tissue from these sites, which a pathologist can evaluate for diagnosis.
Interventional Endoscopic Ultrasound
Interventional endoscopic ultrasound is used to treat pancreatic disease in various ways, including:
- Cyst drainage
- Placement of fiducials (small metal guides placed in and around tumors for radiation therapy)
Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). A thin, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and entire colon to find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).
Often, colon cancer presents no noticeable symptoms in the early stages, which is why screenings such as colonoscopies are very important—in these early stages that this form of cancer is most treatable.