What Are Endoscopy & Centesis Procedures?

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  • 0:01 Looking Deep Inside
  • 0:30 Endoscopy
  • 2:17 Centesis
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Have you ever wondered how doctors can look inside of our body or take samples of stuff? There's actually more than one way, and this lesson describes two important ways: endoscopy and centesis.

Looking Deep Inside

Have you ever dropped a valuable, like a precious ring, into a drain? Maybe you've heard of stories of people who have. Drains are hard to see inside of, let alone get into or take something out of. Maybe you called a plumber, who came out with special instruments that let them see inside the drain and retrieve the item in question.

Medical practitioners use similar instruments to see deep inside your body, remove things from inside your body, and to even perform surgical procedures. We'll be discussing them in this lesson.


The general term for the visual examination of the interior of a body structure by means of an endoscope is called endoscopy. An endoscope is an instrument used to examine the interior of a body structure. 'Endo-' means 'inside' or 'within,' and '-scope' means an 'instrument for viewing or observing.'

The type of endoscopy that's being performed is usually named for the organs involved. For example:

  • A colonoscopy is an endoscopy of the colon
  • An arthroscopy is an endoscopy of a joint, where 'arthro-' means 'joint'
  • A thoracoscopy is an endoscopy of the chest, where 'thoraco-' means 'chest'
  • A laparoscopy is the visual examination of the interior of the abdomen, where 'laparo-' means 'abdomen'

Similarly, the kind of endoscope being used is sometimes named for the body part it is designed to examine, like an arthroscope for a joint, or a laparoscope for the abdomen, and so on.

So, why would we want to perform an endoscopy? Well, let's go back to our familiar plumber example. Why would a plumber use specialized instruments to look deep inside a hollow structure like a pipe? They may want to see if there's anything wrong with the pipe, maybe take something out of it, or maybe even perform some repairs.

Doctors use endoscopy for the same purposes. They look inside a cavity to see if something is wrong with it or its contents, like an ulcer in the stomach. They can use endoscopy to take out a sample of suspicious tissue, like a biopsy of the colon in order to diagnose colon cancer or a polyp. They can also use endoscopic surgery to repair internal structures without making large incisions that are common to traditional surgery.


In some instances, we do not need to perform an endoscopic procedure just to take a sample of fluid out of the body. Instead, we perform what's very generally called a centesis, the surgical puncture of a cavity in order to withdraw a substance out of the body, or in some cases, as part of a treatment protocol where excess fluid is removed in such a way.

For example, if there is an abnormally large amount of fluid in the abdominal cavity, the patient may have difficulty breathing as this fluid interferes with the ability of the diaphragm to expand the lungs. So, an abdominocentesis will be performed to remove this excess fluid.

If we want to diagnose why a joint is swollen or painful, we can perform an arthrocentesis, and send the synovial fluid found within the joint space off for analysis.

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