Endoscopy is the technique in which a thin tube is introduced into the intestinal tract giving direct access to the physicians in order to visualize, obtain samples, perform therapeutic procedures as well as to do further tests on the patient. It has become an important diagnostic as well as a therapeutic tool in the modern day medical practice and at times it incorporates x-ray technologies to enhance its function as in the case of ERCP or Endoscopic Retrograde Colangiopancreatography.
Is Endoscopy an x-ray procedure?
In fact, endoscopy does not make use of any radiation as it is in x-ray imaging. However, in some instances such as in the case of ERCP, x-rays are being used to visualize certain characteristics following an endoscopic procedure.
What is the basis of performing ERCP?
The endoscopy and x-ray in combination is utilized to assess the patency of the biliary (liver ducts) and the pancreatic flow. Thus, tiny tubing will be introduced into the duct system, which drains secretions from the liver and the pancreas, via an endoscopic technique. Secondary to its placement, a radio opaque dye will be injected into these ducts and the injected solution can flow through the duct system and therefore appear in an x-ray image. Flow deficiencies seen in these images will indicate the possible sites of blockage and therefore the doctors can zero-in on such locations and make a decision on further action.
However, such procedures are not done merely to make a diagnosis and most such ERCP approaches end-up being therapeutic as well. Thus, a doctor can perform procedures such as sphincterotomy, stone removal, stent placement, balloon dilatation and tissue sampling via the endoscope using special instruments, guided by the x-ray images.
Why such endoscopic procedures are essential?
If such techniques were not available, many individuals with blockages at the biliary or pancreatic duct will suffer without doctors being able to treat the underlying problem. At the same time, in instances where the blockage is caused by a tumor, a delay in diagnosis will lead to worsening of the condition, damage to the liver, and sometimes spread of the tumor to nearby or distant tissues. By such time, the condition may not be treatable.
Having the ability to directly visualize the tissues residing within the body is something important for a doctor managing such patients and in earlier days similar patients were managed either based on the clinical experience of the doctor or purely on the guesswork carried out by the heath staff. However, because of such endoscopic techniques, accurate diagnosis is no longer a problem and patients will therefore receive more accurate treatment and will be subjected to less side effects than what it was earlier.