Know the Difference Between a Colonoscopy and an Endoscopy


Have you been experiencing unexplained abdominal discomfort or a bowel disorder? An endoscopic procedure can be a minimally invasive option to evaluate the gastrointestinal problems you may be facing. Our gastrointestinal doctors in Little Rock, AR use endoscopic services as a guide to view the various portions of the gastrointestinal tract. Such options help reduce the need for more intensive procedures and extended recovery periods.

An endoscopy is a procedure utilized to aid in the detection of conditions in the esophagus, abdomen, and stomach. One of the most commonly performed endoscopic assessments is a colonoscopy exam, which assists in catching and reducing the chance of colon cancer.

What might an endoscopy vs. a colonoscopy help monitor your health, and what are the differences between these endoscopic exams? Keep reading to discover additional details about these services offered at GastroArkansas. Our gastroenterology team strives to help individuals in and around the Little Rock, AR area receive the care they need for digestive concerns.

What are the main variations between an endoscopy and a colonoscopy?

While an endoscope (a long, slender, and flexible device containing a camera and light) is used to obtain high-quality images for both endoscopies and colonoscopies, there are several distinctions that separate these exams.

In instances when the upper part of the GI tract must be examined, an upper endoscopy procedure is advised. The endoscope device is placed in your mouth and gently moved beyond your throat into the esophagus, stomach, and small bowel. Comparatively, a colonoscopy might be advised when the lower portion of the gastrointestinal system needs to be assessed. To conduct a colonoscopy procedure, the endoscope will be placed in the rectum and advanced into the large intestine (colon).

Another difference includes how individuals prepare for the procedures. When preparing for a colonoscopy procedure, you’ll likely be advised to only consume clear liquids for 24 hours before your appointment. Information on how to rid your GI system of stool will be given and may involve a cleansing solution or laxative. This allows for easy evaluation of the intestines and rectum.

The preparation for an upper endoscopy is not as involved. You may be advised to avoid consuming any food and drink for about six hours before the endoscopy exam and stop taking certain blood-thinning medications as advised by your doctor. If you'd like to learn more about the variations between colonoscopies vs. endoscopies, set up a visit with our GastroArkansas team to have your questions answered.

How are endoscopies performed?

To perform an endoscopy procedure, a slender, flexible device (known as an endoscope) is inserted into your mouth and gently advanced through the throat and esophagus and into the small bowel. If required, tools can be attached to the endoscope to help treat a variety of issues. These tools can extract tissue samples, remove food that's stuck in the upper gastrointestinal tract, or open a stricture (narrowed area).

The reasons for requiring an endoscopy vary according to your needs. If you have symptoms that affect your daily life, our endoscopy specialists in Little Rock, AR may recommend this procedure. An endoscopy can allow us to select the ideal treatment to address your condition. Generally speaking, an endoscopy procedure can be a helpful option if you have:

  • Long-term heartburn or chest pain
  • Bloody stool
  • Unexplained abdominal discomfort
  • Persistent bowel changes (like constipation or diarrhea)

How does a colonoscopy work?

To perform a colonoscopy exam, an endoscope is carefully positioned in the rectum and advanced into the large intestine. This device sends real-time video images to a monitor where the physician can evaluate the large intestine. During the course of the exam, tissue biopsies can be taken to detect whether cancerous cells are present, and precancerous polyps (growths) can be removed.

It's important to schedule a colonoscopy if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer or if you are 45 years or older. A colonoscopy procedure may also be advised if you notice the following signs or symptoms more consistently:

  • Cramps
  • Anal bleeding
  • Feeling bloated
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Narrow or thin stools
  • Change in bowel movements

Get relief from your GI conditions with endoscopic treatment

An endoscopic procedure can allow your doctor to detect and treat GI issues like blockages within the intestines, tumors or other growths, unexplained abdominal discomfort, and other problems. When you partner with the team at GastroArkansas, experienced care for your digestive conditions is within reach. We are here to help you experience relief from digestive concerns and intestinal conditions. Reach out to our gastroenterology practice in Little Rock, AR now to schedule a treatment consultation.