Here are the Differences Between an Endoscopy and a Colonoscopy


Are you experiencing abdominal discomfort or GI conditions? An endoscopic procedure can serve as a minimally invasive option to evaluate the GI concerns you're dealing with. Our gastrointestinal doctors in Illinois utilize endoscopic services to view the various areas of the GI tract. These options help lessen the need for more invasive procedures and extended recovery periods.

An endoscopy is a type of procedure that aids in the diagnosis of conditions impacting the esophagus, stomach, and abdomen. Among the more commonly conducted endoscopic services is a colonoscopy exam, which aids in finding and preventing colorectal cancer.

Are there differences between endoscopies vs. colonoscopies, and how might these endoscopic options improve your health? Read below to learn further details about these exams at GI Alliance of Illinois. Our skilled team wants to ensure residents in and around the Illinois area access the treatment required for gastrointestinal conditions.

What are the main differences between colonoscopies and endoscopies?

Though an endoscope (which is a long, narrow, and flexible tube housing a camera and light) is utilized to obtain high-resolution photos for both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, there are several substantial differences between the processes.

When the upper portion of the GI tract needs to be examined, an upper endoscopy (also called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD) might be performed. In this case, the endoscope is placed in your mouth and gently moved beyond your throat into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. In comparison, a colonoscopy might be ordered in cases where the lower portion of the digestive tract needs to be visualized. During a colonoscopy option, the endoscope device will be placed in the rectum and moved up into the large intestine (colon).

Other differences include how patients prepare for the exams. When having a colonoscopy, you’ll likely only drink clear liquids for 24 hours prior to your appointment. Directions on how to clear your intestines of stool will be given and might involve a cleansing solution or laxative. This provides for/clears the way for easy evaluation of the rectum and colon.

Preparing for an upper endoscopy is much easier. It's important to fast from food and drink for around six hours before the procedure and stop taking certain blood thinners as recommended by your doctor. If you'd like to learn more about the differences between an endoscopy vs. a colonoscopy, set up an appointment with our GI Alliance of Illinois team to have your questions answered.

How is an endoscopy administered?

To perform an endoscopy exam, a long, bendable tube-like device (known as an endoscope) is inserted into your mouth and carefully advanced down the throat and esophagus, and into the small bowel. If necessary, special equipment can be fastened to the endoscope to help address a number of concerns. Various tools can be utilized to take tissue for biopsies, retrieve food caught in the upper GI tract, or open a narrowed area.

The causes for needing an endoscopy procedure often vary according to your needs. If you experience symptoms that interfere with your health, one of our endoscopy specialists in Illinois may recommend this type of exam. It can enable our team to determine the ideal treatment option for your needs. Typically, an endoscopy exam can be a great option if you have:

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

How are colonoscopies performed?

During a colonoscopy exam, an endoscope is gently placed within the rectum and moved into the large intestine. The scope transmits real-time video images to a monitor so your physician can examine the large intestine. Biopsies of the tissue can be taken to determine if cancerous cells have developed, and precancerous growths (polyps) can be excised.

It's imperative to schedule a colonoscopy if you have a family history of colon cancer or when you turn 45. Colonoscopies might also be advised if you experience the following symptoms on a regular basis:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Anal bleeding
  • Bloody stools
  • Cramps
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Feeling bloated
  • Narrow or thin stools

Experience relief from your GI symptoms with endoscopic options

An endoscopic approach can allow your doctor to detect and treat conditions like intestinal blockages, tumors or other growths, unexplained abdominal pain, and more. When you partner with the team at GI Alliance of Illinois, board-certified care for digestive conditions is close at hand. We look are here to help you find relief from your GI issues and intestinal conditions. Get in touch with our gastroenterology doctors in Illinois today to schedule a consultation.