What Is Rigid Endoscopy?

A stiff tube is inserted into a patient during a rigid endoscopy to get a view of an organ.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Rigid endoscopy is a medical procedure where a medical professional inserts a stiff telescoping tube into a patient to get a view of an organ or area of interest, using a camera in the tube to see the patient's internal anatomy. The device, known as an endoscope, also has an instrument channel so the physician can pass instruments through the tube to perform procedures like biopsies. This usually takes place in a doctor's office or clinic, with suitable anesthesia to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure.

The alternative is flexible endoscopy, where the doctor uses a flexible instead of rigid tube. The best option depends on the procedure, the doctor's experience, and the preferences at the facility. In rigid endoscopy, patients can experience more pain and discomfort because the tube will not flex with the body during the procedure. The doctor may be able to get a better view or perform tasks that are not possible with a flexible endoscope, however.

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Endoscopy allows medical professionals to look directly inside the body. It can be useful for diagnostic purposes where doctors want a visual image or samples, as it is less invasive than surgery for exploratory and diagnostic purposes. It is also useful for surgical procedures like so-called keyhole surgery, where the surgeon makes some small incisions to insert an endoscope and other tools in order to access a surgical site without making a large open incision. Some procedures where rigid endoscopy can be an option can include surgery on the joints, evaluation of problems with the urinary tract, and abdominal surgery.

For some rigid endoscopy procedures, the patient must be under general anesthesia for safety. The doctor needs the patient unconscious and still to perform the surgery, and the anesthesia will also minimize the experience of pain. In other endoscopies, the patient can remain awake for the procedure, although he will usually receive some pain management and sedatives for comfort. Patients can discuss their options with their doctors to determine the best choice for a given procedure.

Recovery time after a rigid endoscopy can vary. Sometimes patients are able to return to normal activity levels immediately after the procedure while other patients may need to rest and work on pain management. Medical professionals usually advise getting up and moving around to reduce the risk of clots and other complications, even if patients are not able to move very much immediately after the endoscopy. Even light activity, like walking around the room with the assistance of a nurse, can reduce surgical complications.

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