Upper Endoscopy
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What is an upper endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy is a test performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, bleeding, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. During the procedure, a doctor examines the lining of your esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine through a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. If growths or other abnormalities are found during the procedure, the doctor may remove the abnormal tissue for further examination, or biopsy. An upper endoscopy may also be used to treat various conditions of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as narrowing, abnormal growths or bleeding.

What happens during an upper endoscopy?
Plan to spend up to two hours at the endoscopy center the day of your procedure.

Before the exam:

  • You will change into a gown and robe.
  • Your medical history will be reviewed with you and you will be given a consent form to sign.
  • A nurse will insert an intravenous (IV) line into your hand or arm.

During the exam:

  • Medicine will be given through the IV line to help you relax and feel drowsy.
  • Your heart rate and oxygen levels will be monitored. If your blood pressure is low, you may be given fluids through the IV line.
  • The doctor will insert a flexible, hollow tube – called an endoscope – into your mouth and will advance it slowly through the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine).
  • You may have a feeling of pressure or fullness.
  • If you have difficulty swallowing, and the doctor finds a narrowing in your esophagus, it may be possible for the area to be expanded during the exam.
  • If abnormal tissue is found, the doctor may remove it through the endoscope for closer examination, or biopsy. Tissue removal is painless.

What happens after the exam?

  • The doctor will talk with you about the initial results of your exam.
  • The doctor will prepare a full report for the physician who referred you for the upper endoscopy.
  • You may feel bloated after the procedure. This is normal.
  • Your throat may feel sore for a short time.
  • Medication given during the exam will prohibit you from driving for the rest of the day.
  • Following the exam, you may resume your normal diet. Avoid alcohol until the next day.
  • You may resume your regular activities the day after the procedure.
  • A nurse will provide you with complete discharge instructions before you leave the endoscopy center. Be sure to ask the nurse for specific instructions if you take blood thinners such as aspirin, Coumadin or Plavix.
  • Any tissue samples removed during the exam will be sent to a lab for evaluation. It may take 5-7 working days for you to be notified of the results.

Are there possible complications from an upper endoscopy?

Although serious complications are rare, any medical procedure has the potential for risks. A nurse will review all potential warning signs with you before you leave the endoscopy center. Risks include:

  • Perforation, or a tear, of the lining of the stomach or esophagus
  • Bleeding from the biopsy site if tissue was removed
  • Reaction to medications used during the procedure