An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. A specialist in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist) uses an endoscopy to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, and beginning of the small intestine. (duodenum). You may have an upper endoscopy done in your doctor’s office, an outpatient surgery center or a hospital.
Why you may need one
An upper endoscopy is used to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the upper part of your digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).
How you prepare
Your doctor will give you specific instructions to prepare for your endoscopy.
Food and Preparations:
You will need to stop drinking and eating up to eight hours before your endoscopy to ensure your stomach is empty for the procedure.
Tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you’re taking before your endoscopy. If you take certain blood-thinning medications, your doctor may recommend that you stop taking them in the days before your endoscopy. Blood thinners may increase your risk of bleeding if certain procedures are performed during the endoscopy.
If you have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding your medications.
Most people undergoing an upper endoscopy will receive a sedative to relax them and make them more comfortable during the procedure. You may feel mentally alert, but your memory, reaction times and judgment may be impaired. Plan on allowing 24 hours for the sedative to wear off. Afterward, you may resume your normal activities. Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may also need to take the day off from work.
What to expect
Before the procedure:
Before your upper endoscopy procedure, you’ll be asked to lie down on a table on your back or on your side. Monitors may be attached to your body to allow your health care team to keep tabs on your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.
At this time, you may receive a sedative medication. This medication, given through a vein in your forearm, helps you relax during the endoscopy.
Your doctor may also spray an anesthetic in your mouth, which will numb your throat in preparation for insertion of the long, flexible tube (endoscope). You may be asked to wear a plastic mouth guard to hold your mouth open.
During the procedure:
Your doctor will then insert the endoscope in your mouth. He or she may ask you to swallow as the scope passes down your throat. You may feel some pressure in your throat, but you generally shouldn’t feel pain.
You can’t talk after the endoscope passes down your throat, though you can make noises. The endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing.
When your doctor has finished the exam, the endoscope is slowly retracted through your mouth. An endoscopy typically takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your situation.