Advances in Diagnosis
Although barium contrast X rays have allowed indirect visualization of the gastrointestinal tract for many years, modern fiber-optic and video endoscopy has revolutionized diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disease. Direct visualization of the upper gastrointestinal tract with an endoscope allows detection and biopsy of ulcers, tumors, and inflammatory lesions. Therapeutic applications of upper endoscopy include widening of scars, removal of polyps, and treatment of bleeding sites. Endoscopic visualization of the colon (colonoscopy) allows direct visualization of polyps, cancers, and inflammation. Removal of polyps during colonoscopy (polypectomy) is a major method of preventing colon cancer.