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Media Backgrounder



About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence and innovation in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 14,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education.

The society serves the medical profession and the general public by providing education and information, and by developing and advocating responsible positions for the benefit of patients, the public and medical professionals.

The ASGE provides a full range of educational courses, a peer-reviewed research journal (GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) and other publications, an annual scientific meeting (Digestive Disease Week), and a members-only and public education Web site ( ASGE also has a colon cancer awareness Web site (

About Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Gastrointestinal endoscopy refers to the use of an instrument, called an endoscope, which is inserted through one of the natural body orifices, to visualize and manipulate different parts of the digestive system.

The digestive tract, or gastrointestinal tract, includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, the small intestine, the colon (also called the large intestine or large bowel), and the rectum. Organs associated with the digestive process include the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Special endoscopes can be used to evaluate these organs as well.

An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a lighted end, miniaturized camera and open biopsy channel. In addition to being a tool used for visual inspection and diagnosis, endoscopes also have the ability to be therapeutic.

Upper endoscopes are passed through the mouth to visualize the esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and upper small intestine, while lower endoscopes (colonoscopes) are passed through the rectum to view the colon, or large intestine. Other special endoscopes allow physicians to view portions of the pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile ducts. Some of these scopes are specially designed to enter the bile ducts and remove stones or place small tubes, known as stents. Other endoscopes have the ability to utilize endoscopic ultrasound, known as EUS, to visualize organs such as the pancreas. Real-time ultrasound-guided biopsies can be performed with these scopes. New capsule endoscopes look like a pill and are able to be swallowed whole. These capsules wirelessly transmit images of the gastrointestinal tract to a device worn on a belt.

Endoscopy: A Major Advance for Diagnosis and Treatment

Endoscopy has been a major advance in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. For example, the use of endoscopes allows the detection and urgent treatment of ulcers, cancers, polyps, and sites of internal bleeding. Through endoscopy, tissue samples (biopsies) may be obtained, areas of blockage can be opened, and active bleeding can be stopped. Polyps in the colon can be removed, which has been shown to prevent colon cancer.

Endoscopy is easily carried out on an outpatient basis and usually done under mild sedation. Endoscopy is very well tolerated by patients. The technique of endoscopy is extremely safe, with very low rates of complications, when performed by a properly trained endoscopist, such as members of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

For more detailed information on digestive diseases and endoscopic procedures, see ASGE’s media backgrounders and patient education brochures 

About ASGE Members

The practice of endoscopy must be performed by competent, trained individuals. The practitioner must have both knowledge of the procedure-when to use it and how to interpret its results-as well as the physical skill to perform the procedure.

Physicians who are members of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, have highly specialized training in endoscopic procedures of the digestive tract, including upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). ASGE members undergo a rigorous application and screening process, and are recognized by the medical community as knowledgeable, experienced experts in gastroenterology, GI surgery and gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures.

ASGE is the only medical society that requires documentation of specific training in GI endoscopic procedures. For decades, the ASGE has set strict requirements for membership, including demonstrated training in GI endoscopy.

ASGE members must meet rigorous requirements (For a complete list of criteria, click here):

  1. Unlimited medical license.
  2. All applicants submitting an application shall present documented evidence of successful completion of an accredited training program that includes gastrointestinal endoscopy administered by physicians and/or surgeons during a fellowship in adult or pediatric gastroenterology or surgical residency training program, including at least one of the following: upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, laparoscopy, colonoscopy, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.
  3. The applicant must be sponsored by two Active or Senior members of the society, one of whom has personal knowledge of the applicant's endoscopic training and skills.

ASGE members practice in every setting in which endoscopy is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic method of treatment for diseases of the digestive tract. Most of the U.S. ASGE members surveyed described their primary practice setting as a group practice (37.9%), solo practice (23.5%), or academia clinical (18.5%). Members spend the largest percentage of their time, on average, in endoscopy (43.0%) and GI consultation (32.3%).

Non-Physicians Performing Endoscopic Procedures

In some geographic locations, non-physicians may be the only ones available to perform certain endoscopic procedures. The majority of non-physician endoscopists perform only flexible sigmoidoscopy-a procedure that evaluates only the lower 1/3rd of the colon. To find a qualified physician in your area, visit ASGE’s “Find a Doctor”