Endoscopy vs. Colonoscopy: What is the Difference Between These Exams?


Are you experiencing unexplained abdominal pain or a bowel disorder? An endoscopic procedure can be a minimally invasive process to assess the digestive health problems you're experiencing. Our gastrointestinal doctors in Dallas, TX perform endoscopic services in an effort to visualize the various areas of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. These options help minimize the need for more intensive procedures and extended recovery times.

An endoscopy is a type of procedure that assists with the detection of conditions impacting the esophagus, stomach, and the rest of the abdomen. One of the more common endoscopic services is the colonoscopy screening, which aids in diagnosing and preventing colon and rectal cancer.

How might an endoscopy or a colonoscopy help you, and how do these endoscopic exams differ? Read below to learn more about these procedures performed at Digestive Health Associates of Texas. Our skilled team aims to help people in and around the Dallas, TX area get the treatment they need for better gastrointestinal health.

What are the differences between a colonoscopy and an endoscopy?

Even though an endoscope (which is a long, slender, and flexible device containing a camera and light) is utilized to capture high-quality images for both an endoscopy and a colonoscopy, there are some primary distinctions between these two processes.

In cases where the upper part of the digestive tract must be assessed, an upper endoscopy procedure might be performed. With this procedure, the endoscope device is positioned in your mouth and advances down the throat into the esophagus, stomach, and small bowel. Comparatively, a colonoscopy might be conducted in cases where the lower part of the GI system needs to be viewed. During the colonoscopy process, the endoscope is inserted into the rectum and moved up into the large intestine (colon).

Further differences include how you prepare for colonoscopies vs. endoscopies. When prepping for a colonoscopy, you’ll likely be advised to only consume clear liquids for 24 hours prior to your appointment. Directions on how to rid your GI system of stool will be administered and may involve the use of cleansing solutions or laxative products. This enables easy examination of the rectum and intestines.

Prepping for an upper endoscopy is less intensive. You should fast from food and beverages for around six hours prior to the procedure and stop taking certain blood-thinning medications as recommended by your physician. If you'd like to learn more about endoscopies vs. colonoscopies, arrange for an appointment with our Digestive Health Associates of Texas team to have your questions answered.

How are endoscopies administered?

To conduct an endoscopy, a flexible, slender tube-like device (endoscope) is positioned into your mouth and carefully advanced through the throat and esophagus and into the small intestine. When necessary, tools can be fastened to the endoscope to help provide care for various issues. These tools can be used to take tissue samples, remove food that's stuck in the upper GI tract, or dilate a narrowed area (stricture).

The reasons behind requiring an endoscopy procedure can vary according to individual needs. If you experience symptoms that impact your quality of life, our endoscopy specialists in Dallas, TX may advise having this type of procedure. It can allow us to determine the treatment ideal for your health needs. Typically, an endoscopy can be a good approach to take if you have:

  • Unexplained abdominal discomfort
  • Constant bowel changes (like constipation or diarrhea)
  • Chronic heartburn or chest pain
  • Blood in the stool

How do colonoscopies work?

To perform a colonoscopy, an endoscope is gently placed within the rectum and advanced into the colon. This device transmits video images to a monitor so your physician can evaluate the large intestine. During this time, tissue samples can be extracted to detect whether malignant cells have developed, and precancerous polyps can be removed.

It's imperative to receive a colonoscopy procedure if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer or if you are 45 years or older. A colonoscopy procedure can also be performed if you notice the following symptoms on a regular basis:

  • Bloating
  • Thin or narrow stools
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Bloody stools

Find relief from your GI conditions with endoscopic treatment

Endoscopic procedures can allow your healthcare practitioner to identify and treat issues like intestinal blockages, tumors or other growths, unexplained abdominal discomfort, and more. When you partner with the team at Digestive Health Associates of Texas, compassionate care for digestive conditions is within reach. We are ready to help you experience relief from your GI issues and bowel disorders. Contact our digestive health team in Dallas, TX now to request a treatment consultation.