Upper endoscopy is a procedure that allows your gastroenterologist to look inside your upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, and duodenum). The test is performed using an endoscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and a light on its end, that the doctor inserts through your mouth down to the duodenum (the first part of the small bowel). The images are transmitted from the scope to a monitor so the doctor can see the inside of your GI tract. The scope also has a channel that the doctor can use to insert instruments and perform therapeutic interventions such as taking biopsies or treating a bleeding ulcer.
Millions of endoscopies are performed every year. The test is very safe, effective and well tolerated. Upper endoscopy is used to evaluate and treat many conditions such as abdominal pain, acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus, difficulty swallowing, ulcers and tumors.
Preparing for your upper endoscopy:
You will receive specific instruction when you are scheduled for the procedure explaining the preparation process. This is usually very simple as you do not need to drink any cleansing solution before an upper endoscopy. You can not eat any solid food the day of your procedure but you can usually continue to drink clear liquids up to four hours before your procedure.
Before the procedure, you will be evaluated by the anesthesia team and the nursing staff. You will be asked to put a gown on. An intravenous access will be placed and your vital signs checked. Your doctor will talk to you about the risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure and you will be asked to sign an informed consent form to give the doctor permission to perform the procedure.
The upper endoscopy is performed in a private room with only your gastroenterologist, the anesthesiologist and the nurse and tech assisting in the procedure present in the room. Sedation will be administered through the IV line and you will be asleep and comfortable. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and advanced to the first part of the small bowel called the duodenum. Your doctor will carefully examine your upper GI tract looking for various conditions such as inflammation or ulcers or damage from acid reflux. If any abnormality is noted a biopsy can be taken. Biopsies are small pieces of tissues that are taken from the GI tract and sent to pathology to be looked at under the microscope.
After the procedure:
An upper endoscopy usually takes less than 15 minutes. When the procedure is over, the sedation will be stopped and you will wake up and be taken to the recovery room. Most patients wake up not even realizing that the procedure had occurred. After the sedation completely wears off, your doctor will talk to you about the procedure and discuss with you the findings and the recommendations.
You will need someone to take you home after the procedure as after receiving sedation you are not allowed to drive or go to work or leave the endoscopy unit by yourself. The next day you will be back to your normal routine.