Colonoscopy VS Endoscopy: What’s The Difference?

Article first published on G&L Surgical

In modern medicine, many tests are available to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal (GI) issues. 

An endoscopy is a common test that examines the digestive tract. Various types of endoscopies examine different parts of the digestive tract, and many people may not know the difference between them. 

In this article, we will explore the types of endoscopies, including the differences between endoscopy and colonoscopy, what each procedure entails, and why regular screening is essential for maintaining gastrointestinal health. 

What’s The Difference Between An Endoscopy And A Colonoscopy?

An endoscopy is an umbrella term for all types of scopes. A colonoscopy is a type of endoscopy that only examines the lower part of the digestive tract, specifically the colon and rectum.

On the other hand, an upper endoscopy, also known as a gastroscopy, examines the upper part of the digestive tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

While both procedures involve inserting a flexible tube with a camera and light on the end into the body, they serve different purposes. By understanding the difference between these procedures, you can better understand which your doctor may recommend.

Gastroscopy, Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, G&L Surgical Clinic, Dr Ganesh Ramalingam

What Is An Upper Endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy is a medical examination procedure that allows doctors to view the upper part of the digestive tract. During an upper endoscopy, also called a gastroscopy, a doctor will examine the oesophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine called the duodenum.

The procedure is performed by inserting a flexible tube, called an endoscope, through the mouth and into the oesophagus. The endoscope has a camera and light on it, allowing the doctor to see the inside of the digestive tract on a monitor. The procedure takes around 15-30 minutes, and patients are typically given a mild sedative to help them relax.

An upper endoscopy can detect a range of GI issues, including ulcers, inflammation, and abnormal growths.

What Is A Colonoscopy?

colonoscopy examines the lower part of the digestive tract, specifically the colon and rectum. The procedure involves a flexible tube called a colonoscope with a camera and light on the end. The colonoscope is inserted through the anus and into the colon, allowing the doctor to view the inside of the colon on a monitor.

The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes, and patients are typically given a sedative to help them relax. During a colonoscopy, doctors can detect a range of GI issues, including polyps, cancer, inflammation, and abnormal growths. In addition, biopsies can also be taken during the procedure to test for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and signs of colorectal cancer or polyps.

Getting a Colonoscopy and Upper Endoscopy At The Same Time

Doctor talking to patient about colonoscopy screening

Patients who experience gastrointestinal issues may be recommended to undergo both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy at the same time. This is so you can get a full body check in one examination while saving on cost. 

During the procedure, the patient will be placed under general anaesthesia to help them relax, and the examination will take around 60-90 minutes.

The Importance of Regular Screening

In Singapore, the Ministry of Health recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for individuals aged 50 and above. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors may need to begin screening earlier or have more frequent screenings.

Upper endoscopy and colonoscopy are essential examinations for maintaining gastrointestinal health, allowing doctors to detect and treat a range of conditions, including polyps, inflammation, and cancer. It is best to talk to your doctor about which screening test is right for you and when you should begin regular screenings.

Regular screening is important to maintain good gastrointestinal health in Singapore. By staying on top of the recommended screenings and working with your doctor, you can take proactive steps to protect your health and detect any issues early on.


An upper endoscopy and colonoscopy are valuable tools for examining the digestive tract and detecting various conditions, from inflammation to cancer. 

While they may sound similar, they are used to examine different parts of the digestive tract. Talk to your doctor about which screening tests are recommended for you.

At G&L Surgical, we provide professional advice on colonoscopy procedures and colorectal cancer. If you have any questions on these examinations and conditions, contact our team for assistance.