Endoscopy and Colonoscopy and Bronchoscopy

What is an endoscope?

Critically ill or critically injured patients may have or develop problems with their swallowing tube (esophagus), stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon) or lungs. Doctors use slender flexible tubes with a lighted end to look at these structures. The instruments are called endoscopes. The endoscope used to look at the stomach is called a gastroscope and the endoscope used to look at the colon is called a colonoscope. A bronchoscope, used to view the lungs, is another type of endoscope. The various types of endoscopes differ slightly in tube diameter and length. All allow the doctor to visually inspect tissues, sample small portions of tissue to diagnose problems (biopsy) and to treat some of the diseases that occur in critically ill patients.

Are there any potential complications associated with endoscopy?

Complications associated with endoscopy are rare. Complications of colonoscopy include cramping, feeling bloated, bleeding, or a small hole made in the colon occasionally requiring surgery to repair (colon perforation). Colon perforation is uncommon. Complications associated with bronchoscopy, while rare, include a temporary decrease in blood oxygen levels. This is protected against by use of supplemental oxygen during the procedure. Rarely bronchoscopy can cause a lung to collapse. If this happens, a chest tube may be needed to re-expand the lung.


View of the inside of a portion of the intestine as seen through an endoscope.