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Endoscopy and Colonoscopy - Knowing the Differences

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Endoscopy and colonoscopy are two types of diagnostic procedures. Read the article below to learn more about them and their differences.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shivpal Saini

Published At June 29, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 4, 2023

What Is Endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure to examine the upper part of the digestive tract, and this procedure is also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD. A gastroenterologist (specialist in gastrology) uses an endoscope to perform this procedure. A narrow long, flexible tube with a light and small video camera is inserted into the esophagus via the mouth, and this helps in viewing and getting detailed images of the lining of the esophagus. Through this procedure, the lining of the esophagus (food pipe that carries food from mouth to stomach), stomach (an organ that holds and initiates food digestion), and duodenum (upper part of the small intestine) are done.

What Is Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an examination procedure done to look for changes and abnormalities in the rectum and large intestine (colon). This helps in the examination of irritated tissues, swollen ulcers and polyps, and cancer present in the colon. A long flexible tube is used that is inserted into the rectum, and the tip of this tube holds a light and camera that allows the healthcare professional to have a detailed view of the rectum and colon. Also, some abnormal tissue and polyps can be removed from the colon during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples can be taken for analysis.

What Are the Indications of Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is indicated in many gastrointestinal diseased conditions as a diagnostic method to identify abnormalities, such as:

  • Dysphagia (trouble in swallowing).

  • Upper abdominal pains or chest pain that is not related to the heart.

  • Unexplained weight loss (a symptom of an underlying serious illness).

  • Continuous nausea and vomiting.

  • Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

  • Ulcers and tumors of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.

What Are the Indications of Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is indicated in individuals with lower gastrointestinal tract conditions and certain conditions like:

  • Lower gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Acute and chronic diarrhea.

  • Screening and surveillance of cancer and colorectal polyps.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (these disorders involve long-standing inflammation of the digestive tract tissues).

Also, colonoscopy is indicated as a therapeutic indication in conditions like:

  • Colonic decompression (colonic decompression facilitates laparoscopy use and increases the rate of primary anastomosis).

  • Excision and ablation of lesions.

  • As a treatment for GI bleeding.

  • Foreign body removal.

  • Dilation of colonic stenosis.

Other miscellaneous indications include:

  • Chronic constipation.

  • Isolated unexplained abdominal pain.

  • Abnormal radiological examination.

  • Preoperative and intraoperative localization of colonic lesions.

What Is the Difference Between Endoscopy and Colonoscopy?

Endoscopy is mostly referred to as upper endoscopy. This procedure is a non-surgical procedure done by the healthcare provider to examine the digestive tract, and colonoscopy is a general umbrella of an endoscopy. The main difference between endoscopy and colonoscopy is that endoscopy is performed by inserting the endoscope via the mouth and through the rectum. Both procedures are done using a scope with a light and a camera head to capture images.

How Are Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Done?

The difference between an endoscope and a colonoscope lies in how the scope enters the body for examination.

In Endoscopy: Initially, sedation is given, usually intravenous. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and passes through the esophagus. It reaches the stomach and duodenum. It is a non-surgical procedure but also acts as a treatment. The devices may actually pass via the endoscope and aid in halting any kind of bleeding. Other devices can also be utilized to remove various tumors and ulcers through the endoscope.

In Colonoscopy: Here also, the procedure initiates with sedation, and the healthcare provider asks the individual to lie down on the left side. The patient is asked to shift the position during the process which helps to navigate the endoscope smoothly into the colon and capture images. Once the endoscope reaches the cecum, the provider may pull the endoscope to identify more abnormalities with the attached camera. During this procedure, the provider may blow air into the colon to see more clearly.

Both procedures can approximately take about 30 to 60 minutes and typically do not last longer than an hour. Mild cramping can be experienced throughout the procedure, but this is normal. If any biopsy is required for further analysis, a small area of interest is removed via the fine needle aspiration technique for analysis. This affects the cost of colonoscopy and endoscopy, and the cost may increase.

What Preparation Should Be Done Prior to the Procedures?

Prior to the procedure, minimal preparation is done. The provider may suggest the individual fast for six to eight hours prior to the procedure, including water intake. A detailed medical history is taken, and information on particular medications like blood thinners and other underlying medical conditions is noted. In comparison to colonoscopy and endoscopy, the gastrointestinal tract is required to be clean to have a clear view of the gastrointestinal tract. Cleansing solution and liquid diet with laxatives are given several days prior to the procedure. In a colonoscopy, specific ways of cleaning are used, like enema is done in most individuals.

What Are the Consequences of Endoscopy and Colonoscopy?

Endoscopy: The individual is kept under observation till the effect of the anesthesia subsides. The throat might feel a little sore, and temporary bloating can occur due to the introduction into the stomach during the test. Do not start eating immediately; follow the instructions of the healthcare provider.

Colonoscopy: A pressure feeling, bloating, and cramping during the procedure is felt that is normal. Post-procedure, the effects of sedation are required to subside to get back to normal. Two to three hours of waiting would be required for preparation and recovery post-procedure.


Endoscopy and colonoscopy are both diagnostic procedures that aid in viewing and getting clear images of the infected area of the gastrointestinal tract and colon. Both techniques, along with imaging, also act as a helping hand in treatment procedures as a guiding path for the providers. Biopsy and removal of necrosed or affected tissue are easily done during the procedures. These help to ease time and pain relieving factors and also minimize repeated procedures on individuals.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Shivpal Saini
Dr. Shivpal Saini

General Surgery


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