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What is an esophagoscopy?

Esophagoscopy

An esophagoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the inside of your esophagus using a long thin instrument called an endoscope. The endoscope contains a light and a camera that transmits pictures of the inside of your esophagus to a video screen. Esophagoscopy can help diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the esophagus, such as esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus, and objects stuck in the esophagus.

The esophagus is a muscular tube located in the upper gastrointestinal tract that connects your mouth to your stomach. An esophagoscopy can help your doctor diagnose unexplained symptoms you may be having, such as difficulty swallowing, upper abdominal pain, vomiting blood, or regurgitation. An esophagoscopy can also show certain structures of the throat and larynx (voice box).

Esophagoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that can often be performed in an outpatient setting. The procedure does not require an incision and generally has a quick recovery and a very low risk of complications.

Esophagoscopy is only one method used to treat and diagnose conditions of the esophagus. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about all of your options to understand which option is best for you.

Types of esophagoscopy

The types of esophagoscopy include:

  • Flexible esophagoscopy is performed by inserting a thin, flexible endoscope through the mouth and down the throat into the esophagus.
  • Transnasal flexible esophagoscopy is performed by inserting a thin, flexible endoscope through the nose and down the throat into esophagus.
  • Rigid esophagoscopy is performed by inserting a rigid endoscope through the mouth and down the throat into the esophagus.

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may recommend one or more additional procedures during your esophagoscopy to diagnose or treat certain conditions. The following procedures may be performed during the esophagoscopy procedure:

  • Botulinum toxin injection into the lower esophageal sphincter to relieve difficulty swallowing due to hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter
  • Chromoendoscopy, which involves spraying dye into the esophagus to highlight abnormal tissue
  • Dilation of the esophagus that is too narrow, often due to scar tissue
  • Endoscopic injection therapy, which is the application of medication that shrinks esophageal varices (enlarged veins in the esophagus that can bleed)
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), which is the removal of abnormal lesions through an endoscope in early stage esophageal cancer or Barrett's esophagus
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy to identify esophagus tissue that may be cancerous
  • Foreign body removal, or removal of food or other object that is stuck in the esophagus
  • Photodynamic therapy for treatment of esophageal cancer with a laser directed through an endoscope
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which involves the use of heat to destroy abnormal cells from Barrett’s esophagus
  • Tissue biopsy, which involves removing samples of abnormal-looking intestinal tissues to be examined for disease or cancer
  • Variceal ligation for treatment of esophageal varices by tying them off with elastic bands
Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: May 7, 2013

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Medical References

Bleeding esophageal varices. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000268.htm. Accessed July 10, 2011., Endoscopic Therapy May Offer An Alternative To Surgery In Patients With Esophageal Cancer. Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006092650.htm. Accessed July 10, 2011., Esophageal Cancer Screening. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/esophageal/Patient/page3. Accessed July 10, 2011., Esophageal Diagnostic Procedures. Thoracic Surgery Directors Association. http://www.ctsnet.org/doc/4270. Accessed July 10, 2011., Lump in Throat. Merck Manual. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec02/ch007/ch007e.html. Accessed July 10, 2011., Photodynamic Therapy for Cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/photodynamic. Accessed July 10, 2011., Shaheen, N.J. et al. Radiofrequency Ablation in Barrett's Esophagus with Dysplasia. N Engl J Med 2009;360:2277-2288. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0808145#t=articleDiscussion. Accessed July 10, 2011., Transnasal Esophagoscopy (TNE). Columbia University. http://www.entcolumbia.org/tne.html. Accessed July 10, 2011.,Upper GI Endoscopy. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/upperendoscopy/. Accessed July 10, 2011.

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