The following procedures are routinely performed at the Marin General Hospital Endoscopy Suites:

Colonoscopy is routinely recommended for people ages 50 and older. After the initial colonoscopy, a patient may be asked to return in three, five, or 10 years, depending on the results and the patient’s individual risk factors. During a colonoscopy, the entire colon is examined while the patient is under sedation. If the gastroenterologist finds any growths or polyps, they are removed and sent for a biopsy.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy examines the rectum and lower part of the colon. Biopsies may be taken, but polyps cannot be removed through this procedure. A sigmoidoscopy causes a minor amount of discomfort and can be performed without anesthesia.

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy uses a flexible endoscope to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum while the patient is under sedation. Any growths found during this procedure are biopsied and, where possible, removed during the endoscopy. If the patient has strictures, areas where scar tissue has narrowed the esophagus and made swallowing difficult, these can be dilated during the procedure.

Esophageal Manometry involves the threading of a thin, pressure-sensitive tube through a nostril and down into the esophagus. A computer records the pressure of the esophagus. Readings are taken of different parts of the esophagus, both at rest and as it contracts. This test does not require anesthesia.

24-Hour pH Monitoring is a test specifically designed to measure acidity levels in esophageal reflux patients and is usually performed only once the patient has had esophageal manometry. A thin tube is taped to the patient’s cheek and passed through the nostril down into the esophagus. Two types of specialized catheters may be used in 24-hour monitoring.

  • The 24-hour ambulatory pH study detects and measures the pH (degree of acidity) of acid reflux
  • The impedance pH catheter has a probe that detects changes in electrical resistance and can detect reflux of any type, including both acid and non-acid liquid, as well as gas. Marin General Hospital is the only hospital in the county to offer this procedure.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) combines endoscopy and x-rays to examine the bile and pancreatic ducts. Patients are anesthetized for this procedure in which an endoscope is inserted through the mouth and down to the duodenum. The gastroenterologist passes a smaller catheter through the scope into the bile duct or pancreatic duct. If gallstones are present, they can be removed minimally invasively with a balloon device or a basket. Blocked bile ducts can also be treated through ERCP as a minimally invasive alternative to surgery.