Endoscopy is the use of a long, thin, flexible camera to investigate the gastrointestinal tract via the mouth (oral) or back passage (rectal). There are many reasons why you may need an endoscopy, and it is often preferable to non-invasive alternatives such as scans or blood tests, for the following reasons:
- Endoscopy allows for direct views of the affected areas of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Samples (biopsies) can be taken to provide definitive diagnosis of many conditions.
- Treatment can be carried out via the endoscope during the appointment.
If your GP thinks that you need an endoscopy, they will refer you to a specialist in the gastroenterology or colorectal surgery department, who will assess you in clinic and arrange an endoscopy if it is necessary.
The endoscopy unit at the Royal Free Hospital is situated on the lower ground floor nearest the Pond Street entrance. The unit comprises of three procedure rooms, with individual changing and toilet facilities, and an 8-bed recovery area. As well as the main waiting room, the unit has a separate area for relatives waiting for patients to be discharged and a private consultation room.
The endoscopy unit has one room equipped with radiographic image intensifier equipment to allow us to carry out X-Ray-guided procedures, and we have a large team of endoscopists trained to carry out both diagnostic and interventional procedures. The unit routinely carries out the following procedures:
- flexible sigmoidoscopy
- endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatogram (ERCP)
- endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
- endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)
- placement of nasojejunal (NJ) feeding tubes
- percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy/jejunostomy (PEG/PEJ)
- polypectomy/endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR)
The unit also carries out a number of advanced procedures, some of which are only performed by a handful of hospitals in the UK. These include:
- balloon dilatation
- oesophageal stenting
- biliary stenting
- confocal laser endomicroscopy
- double-balloon enteroscopy
- endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD)