Failure to identify and diagnose the site and cause of obscure bleeding or some other gastrointestinal disorder may be an indication for push enteroscopy. During this procedure, a long, narrow, flexible gastrointestinal endoscope, known as a push enteroscope, is advanced into the upper gastrointestinal tract to examine and evaluate the proximal section (first one third) of the small bowel. Because of limited funding and inadequate instrument availability, some gastrointestinal endoscopy units may perform this procedure using a colonoscope instead of a push enteroscope. Although not specifically designed for push enteroscopy, colonoscopes are less expensive than push enteroscopes and readily available for clinical use in virtually every gastrointestinal endoscopy unit.
The use of a colonoscope or other lower gastrointestinal endoscope to perform push enteroscopy or another upper gastrointestinal procedure (or the use of an upper gastrointestinal endoscope to perform a lower gastrointestinal procedure) is defined in this article as endoscopic shuffling. Although it is arguably efficient and cost effective (and in some instances may improve clinical outcomes), endoscopic shuffling raises a number of economic, legal, medical, and ethical questions and concerns, several of which are discussed in this article, with a particular focus on infection control.