Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy: What is the Difference?

Endoscopy and Colonoscopy are medical procedures used to get a proper view of the internal organs of our body.

In this article, we will be covering all the details about endoscopy vs colonoscopy. What are these two procedures actually about? What are the reasons behind performing these procedures? Let’s find out!

Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy

What is Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is divided into different categories based on the body part that is investigated. A medical instrument called an endoscope is used to perform endoscopy.

An endoscope is a long flexible tube, it has a light and camera attached to one end.

Endoscopes can be put into the body via the mouth or the anus. In some cases, the endoscope is also put from the throat by making an incision in the throat.

Through this, doctors can see the images of the internal organs on a monitor. Upper endoscopy is mainly about examining the entire digestive tract.

Endoscopes can also be put in the body during keyhole surgery, a minimally invasive surgery where a small incision is made for the operation instead of open surgery.

It can also be used for the examination of unusual symptoms, an image-guided biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure used to draw out fluid or sample tissue for testing.

The fluid or tissue is drawn out using a needle. Different imaging technologies are used to guide the needle to the correct spot.

The endoscopy of the stomach, esophagus, and upper part of the small intestines is called gastroscopy.

endoscopy vs colonoscopy
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Endoscopy Procedure

Patients are asked to have an empty stomach before the procedure. They are not supposed to eat anything 6 hours before the procedure as this would help the doctor in getting clear pictures of their upper gastrointestinal tract.

However, they can drink clear liquids like water, clear soda, apple juice, and so on.

Upper endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to inspect the throat, esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestines, which is called the duodenum.

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The following symptoms can be the possible reasons behind an endoscopy:

  1. Chronic heartburn
  2. Sudden weight loss
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Gastritis
  5. Indigestion
  6. Difficulty in swallowing
  7. Hiatal hernia
  8. Ulcers in the stomach or anywhere in the upper digestive tract.

If you feel you have any such symptoms, you should book your appointment today.

Taking care of your digestive health becomes very important to avoid the risks of developing any such diseases.


endoscopy vs colonoscopy
By Annie Stimson Flickr Copyright 2021.

A colonoscopy is used to look into and examine problems like ulcers, inflammation, tumours, and bleeding inside the colon and rectum.

It is also used for polyps removal and is performed by using a tool called a colonoscope. It is a thin, long, flexible tube. 

It has a light and camera like an endoscope. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum through the anus, this might cause a little discomfort to the patient.

It travels through the entire large intestines and is guided through the colon, the longest part of the large intestine, to the cecum.

Colonoscopy Procedure

The colonoscopy procedure takes around half an hour to one hour, it is done under the guidance of a well-trained doctor called a gastroenterologist.

A patient will be asked to lie on the side for the procedure instead of lying on the back. The patient will also be given pain medication before the procedure. A doctor will then carefully insert the colonoscope into the rectum.

Since the colonoscope is so flexible, it bends, making it easier for the doctor to move it around the entire colon.

The doctor may ask the patient to change positions frequently during the procedure or even gently press their abdomen to assist the movement of the colonoscope inside the body.

The entire procedure is visible on a monitor for the doctor to examine the colon properly, for expanding the passageway, some air is blown into the colon.

This step can make the patient feel uneasy and cause mild cramping. If a doctor finds any polyps during the process, then polyps removal is done, and tissue samples are also taken for further examination of the colon and check for signs of colorectal cancer.

It is very important to remove the polyps as they can turn cancerous if not removed in time.

The colonoscope is inserted via the anus, after which it reaches the rectum, sigmoid colon, descending colon, transverse colon, ascending colon, and cecum.

In this way, the entire colon (1200-1500 mm in length) is examined in this procedure.

Endoscopic Ultrasound

In endoscopic ultrasound, we use a special endoscope with ultrasonic capabilities. This endoscope helps in getting ultrasound pictures of the internal body parts, the technique helps in examining diseases deep inside the body

Ultrasound scope, also popularly known as the US scope, is similar to the normal endoscope, which has a light source and camera source along with a key difference.

The US scope has an ultrasound transducer inside it. This makes the visual inspection of the inside of the digestive tract much easier.

By Libertas Academia Flickr Copyright 2021.

As ultrasound 1can travel deep inside the body, the images we get after this type of endoscopy are very detailed and accurate. Ultrasound endoscopy is done in a similar way to the normal endoscopy. This test uses an endoscope to take ultrasound pictures.

The tube is inserted either via the mouth or the anus, sedatives are given to the patient before the endoscopy to be comfortable during the entire course of the procedure.

Ultrasound endoscopy can be used to identify benign and malignant tumours in the digestive tract. Patients diagnosed with cancer are referred for Ultrasound endoscopy to get a clear idea of the tumours2.

Ultrasound endoscopy helps in determining the stage of colorectal cancer. In staging, we find how big the tumour is and if it has spread to other body parts such as lymph nodes.

It is decided based on staging therapy like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and so on, the US scope is either inserted via the mouth or the anus.

Key procedures which are carried out in this type of endoscopy are visual inspection, obtaining ultrasound images, and biopsy.

The procedure gets completed in less than an hour. Patients can even get discharged on the same day.

This is a safe test, but like all procedures, there are a few risk factors for this procedure as well, such as bleeding and inflammation.


Since endoscopes and colonoscopes are medical types of equipment that travel inside the body, they are routinely exposed to various gastrointestinal secretions like mucus, saliva, blood, bile, feces, and in some cases even pus.

To avoid the chances of infections, it is very important to get the scopes cleaned and sterilized. The endoscopes and colonoscopes are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized after every single use.

Immediately after use, bedside cleaning is done, which is brushing and washing out the scopes with a special cleansing solution.

Endoscopes are cleaned meticulously before disinfection which is done in an automatic endoscope disinfection machine.

The endoscope 3disinfection guide includes the following processes:-

  1. High-level disinfection
  2. Rinsing
  3. Drying

The disinfectants are used at different temperatures following the instructions that the manufacturers provide.

Different Types of Endoscopy Procedures

  1. Laparoscopy- It is used to examine the abdominal area.
  2. Arthroscopy- Used to scan the joints
  3. Colonoscopy- Used for examination of the colon
  4. Enteroscopy- Used specifically for the examination of the small intestines. The scope is inserted either via the mouth or the anus.
  5. Laryngoscopy -Used to scan the larynx. The scope is inserted through the mouth or the nose.
  6. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy- Used to scan the mouth, esophagus, and the duodenum
  7. Bronchoscopy- It is used to investigate and scan the lungs.
  8. Cystoscopy-Used to examine the bladder. The scope is inserted through the urethra.
  9. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy- Used to scan the mouth, esophagus, and duodenum.
  10. Hysteroscopy- Used to examine the uterus in women, the scope is inserted via the vagina.
  11. Mediastinoscopy- Mediastinoscopy is the scanning of the Mediastinum, which is the area between the lungs. The scope is inserted by making an incision above the breastbone.
  12. Urethroscopy- Used to examine the ureters in men, the tube is inserted through the urethra.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the US.

It is very important to identify colorectal cancer in the early stages, and with the help of a colonoscopy, you can do the same. Polyps and early tumours are identified and removed to avoid any chances of cancer in the future.

It is very difficult to predict this cancer as the polyps and early tumours are often not symptomatic, and thus they are not that easy to detect.

Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in the world.

According to WHO, there were 1.93 million cases last year.

By A Healthier Michigan Flickr Copyright 2021.

The death toll went up to 935000, clearly showing how dangerous this is and how crucial it is to identify the early signs of cancer.

Early detection can help remove the tumours or polyps as soon as possible and will initiate early treatment. Prevention is always better to decrease the chances of developing any type of cancer.

To avoid colon cancer, we should have a healthy diet that’s rich in fibre and low in fats. Smoking should be highly prohibited as by doing so, the chances of polyp 4development decrease.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, you are at an increased risk of developing it, it is this very important to maintain your digestive health and stay protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can endoscopy and colonoscopy be done together?

A simultaneous endoscopy and colonoscopy are used by doctors to look at the walls of your esophagus, abdomen, and intestines. The process assists doctors in determining the origin of specific issues you may be facing.

2. Which is better colonoscopy or endoscopy?

While colonoscopies are most typically used to check for colon cancer, endoscopies are typically recommended for looking into upper intestine disorders.

3. Is colonoscopy as painful as endoscopy?

Colonoscopies are normally painless because most people are given a sedative prior to the operation.


By comparing endoscopy vs colonoscopy, we understood that colonoscopy is a type of endoscopy, and there are a lot of other types of endoscopies done to detect diseases in advance so that we can identify the cause of discomfort experienced by the patient earlier and take immediate actions.

We hope you know everything about endoscopy vs colonoscopy by now, let us know your queries in the comments!

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  1. Al-Dhabyani, Walid, et al. “Dataset of breast ultrasound images.” Data in brief 28 (2020): 104863. ↩︎
  2. Alaggio, Rita, et al. “The 5th edition of the World Health Organization classification of haematolymphoid tumours: lymphoid neoplasms.” Leukemia 36.7 (2022): 1720-1748. ↩︎
  3. Zhang, Ziyan, et al. “Endoscope image mosaic based on pyramid ORB.” Biomedical Signal Processing and Control 71 (2022): 103261. ↩︎
  4. Hassan, Cesare, et al. “Performance of artificial intelligence in colonoscopy for adenoma and polyp detection: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Gastrointestinal endoscopy 93.1 (2021): 77-85. ↩︎

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