Minimal access surgery is completed with one or more small incisions instead of a large incision. The surgeon passes a telescope with a video camera through a small incision (usually only 1/4" long) into a body cavity. The surgeon then views the surgery on a TV monitor. Surgical instruments are then passed through other similar little incisions. The surgeon examines and operates on the area in question by viewing magnified images on a television. When the telescope is used to operate on the abdomen, the procedure is called laparoscopy. When used in the chest, the procedure is called thoracoscopy, and when used in a joint, it is called arthroscopy.
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic tool, used to view the inside of organs, inspect for abnormalities and take biopsies. A small camera and light source are mounted onto a flexible tube which can be inserted into the mouth (to inspect the esophagus, stomach and duodenum) or the anus (to inspect the large bowel).
Upper endoscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing. It is also the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Upper endoscopy is more accurate than x-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers, or tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Upper endoscopy can detect early cancer and can distinguish between benign and malignant conditions when biopsies of suspicious areas are obtained. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.
Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions present in the upper gastrointestinal tract. A variety of instruments can be passed through the endoscope that allow many abnormalities to be treated directly with little or no discomfort, for example, stretching narrowed areas, removing polyps (usually benign growths) or swallowed objects, or treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Safe and effective endoscopic control of bleeding has reduced the need for transfusions and surgery in many patients.
Laparoscopic surgery is performed through small incisions. A telescope with a video camera inserted through one incision provides visualization of the operation on a TV monitor. Surgical instruments are then passed through additional small incisions, and the entire operation takes place completely within the patient's body. When the telescope is used to operate on the abdomen, the procedure is called laparoscopy. When used in the chest, the procedure is called thoracoscopy.