Upper Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy is a test that looks inside the body.  The endoscope is a long flexible tube that can be swallowed.  It has a camera and light inside it. An upper endoscopy enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain, or chest pain. Some doctors call it a telescope.  Also through the endoscope, the doctor can take samples (biopsies) of any abnormal looking tissues.

You can have this test as an outpatient.  You can’t eat or drink for about 8 hours before the test so that your stomach and duodenum are empty. Your doctor will give you written instructions about this beforehand, or they may arrive with your appointment letter.

When you get to the Endoscopy Suite, you may be asked to take your upper clothing off and put on a hospital gown.  Some hospitals prefer to use gowns because your clothes won’t get messy.  Once you are ready, you get onto the bed or a stretcher.  Right before the procedure the physician will spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging. You may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax during the exam.

Once the sedative and throat spray have been given, the doctor will pass the endoscope tube down your throat to the area being investigated.  Your doctor will ask you to swallow as the tube goes down.  If there are any abnormalities, the doctor will take pieces of tissue from the abnormal looking area to send to the laboratory for closer inspection under a microscope.  These tissue samples are called biopsies.

The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for 1 to 2 hours until the medication wears off, before being able to go home. You should also bring someone with you or arrange to be picked up.

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