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Updated 15 August 2022 | Approved By

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What is An Endoscopy? A Complete Patient Guide

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If your GP has referred you for an endoscopy, there’s a good chance that you may have some questions about this procedure. Your GP may have identified a need for you to undergo an endoscopy for diagnosis and/or treatment. Australian GPs may refer you to specialist doctors who will be able to perform endoscopy for you. Below will be a list of commonly asked questions by patients from 24-7 Medcare.

What is Endoscopy?

An endoscopy is performed to assess and view inside the body. Doctors will recommend and/or perform an endoscopy to look for abnormalities and/or diseases in the body. Parts of the body that can be examined through endoscopy include the oesophagus, heart, colon, stomach, etc. There are different types of endoscopies that can be performed in these areas. The procedure is performed using a tool called an endoscope. This long, flexible tube is inserted into one of the body’s openings, such as the mouth or urethra. At the end of the endoscope is a camera that captures images inside the body as it travels through the body. Specially trained doctors, such as gastroenterologists, can perform an endoscopy.

Endoscopy vs Gastroscopy

An endoscopy is an umbrella term used to describe procedures that use an endoscope to assess inside the body. Specifically, a gastroscopy is a type of endoscopy used to observe inside the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the oesophagus (windpipe) and stomach. A gastroscopy is inserted through the mouth.

Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy

Similarly, a colonoscopy is a specific type of endoscopy that is used to look inside the colon (e.g. large intestines, bowels, etc.) and the rectum. A colonoscopy will be inserted through the anus.

What Diseases Can Be Detected by an Endoscopy?

Different types of endoscopy procedures will identify diseases in the areas of the body they are investigating. Videos and images captured on the camera will provide real-life visual information about the condition of the body area of interest. Doctors can then use this information to diagnose diseases. Below will be a short list of endoscopy investigations and the diseases they can detect.


An arthroscopy is a type of endoscopy that medical specialists (e.g. orthopaedic surgeons) will use to look for joint conditions, such as arthritis, ligament tears and cartilage damage.


A bronchoscopy is performed by a pulmonologist (e.g. lung specialist) to look for lung conditions, such as [1]:
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lymphoma
  • COPD
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pleural effusion


A colonoscopy is performed by a gastroenterologist (e.g. digestive and gut specialist) to look for gastrointestinal and sometimes liver conditions, such as [2]:


A cystoscopy or cystourethroscopy is performed by a urologist (e.g. urinary tract and reproductive specialist) to look for diseases of the urinary tract, prostate and bladder, including [3]:
  • Cancer
  • Bladder stones
  • Strictures (narrowing)
  • Blockage


A gynecologist performs a hysteroscopy (e.g. female reproductive specialist) to look for problems in the vagina, cervix and other parts of the genitalia, such as abnormal growths, period pain and pregnancy difficulties [4].


A gastroenterologist performs a gastroscopy to look for problems in the upper gastrointestinal tract or gut (i.e. food pipe, stomach, etc.), such as peptic ulcers, cancer and gastritis.


A laryngoscopy is performed by an ENT (ears, nose and throat) doctors or otolaryngologists to look for problems of the larynx (voice box), including laryngitis and cancer [5].


A urologist performs a ureteroscopy to look for problems of the ureter and upper urinary tract infection, including strictures (narrowing of the ureter) and cancer [6].

When is an Endoscopy Recommended?

Endoscopy is recommended to help diagnose conditions and/or provide medical treatment (e.g. removing tissue, controlling a bleed, etc.). Before sending you for an endoscopy, a GP will evaluate your current circumstances, such as past medical history, your symptoms and results from other tests (e.g. MRI, x-rays, etc.). These can either be in an emergency or elective setting. Most GPs will refer you to a specialist for an elective endoscopy, where the procedure is planned ahead. On the other hand, emergency endoscopies are required for circumstances where urgent medical attention is needed.

Endoscopy Preparation

Preparation for endoscopy will often be discussed by the doctor and/or medical specialist who will be performing the procedure. Each type of endoscopy may require specific preparation practices beforehand. However, a general list below will help you prepare for the procedure [7].
  • Arranging transportation for drop-off and pick up with a relative or friend.
  • Bringing the correct documentation and information (e.g. doctor’s referral letter, Medicare card, private health insurance card, medications, etc.)
  • Wearing comfortable clothing
  • Having someone take care of you afterwards for a short period
  • Fasting before the procedure (e.g. food, drink, alcohol, medication, etc.)


Endoscopy Procedure

Endoscopy procedures are usually performed in a hospital or outpatient medical clinic. After being prepared by the medical team, you will be given a general anaesthetic, local anaesthetic and/or sedative to help you keep comfortable during the procedure. On the exam table, the doctor and/or specialist will begin to place an endoscope into your body through an opening (e.g. incision, mouth, rectum etc.). During this, your doctor may perform the following or several of the actions below:
  • Take images and/or videos of the area being assessed
  • Take samples (also known as biopsies) of the affected area
  • Perform medical treatment (e.g. stop bleeding, removing damaged tissue, etc.)


How Long Does An Endoscopy Take?

The time taken to perform an endoscopy will depend on several considerations, including the procedure's type and complexity. The endoscopy procedure itself can last anywhere between 5-60 minutes. Most endoscopies are day procedures and will not require a hospital stay.

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  1. Mahmoud N, Vashisht R, Sanghavi D, et al. Bronchoscopy. [Updated 2022 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Stauffer CM, Pfeifer C. Colonoscopy. [Updated 2022 May 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Engelsgjerd JS, Deibert CM. Cystoscopy. [Updated 2022 Apr 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  4. Moore JF, Carugno J. Hysteroscopy. [Updated 2022 May 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  5. Peterson K, Ginglen JG, Desai NM, et al. Direct Laryngoscopy. [Updated 2022 May 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  6. Wason SE, Monfared S, Ionson A, et al. Ureteroscopy. [Updated 2022 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: