An upper endoscopy is a diagnostic test used to examine the upper digestive tract – the esophagus, stomach, and first segment of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. The procedure is done by inserting a thin tube with a light and camera through the mouth and into the upper digestive tract. The images from the camera are viewed on a display screen during the procedure.
An upper endoscopy is used to determine the cause of symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, internal bleeding and swallowing disorders. It is frequently used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, tumors, and the presence of H. pylori infection in the stomach.
In order to achieve accurate results, you must have an empty stomach before the procedure. You should not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before an upper endoscopy. Tell your doctor about any conditions or medications you take and he or she will instruct you on how to prepare.
Before the procedure, an IV will be inserted and a short-acting anesthetic is used to sedate the patient. The patient will not gag or be aware of the tube entering the upper digestive tract during the procedure. Biopsies may be taken during the procedure for further evaluation and diagnosis. The procedure usually takes 5-10 minutes.
After the procedure, the patient will be kept under observation for about 30 minutes while the medication wears off. Temporary soreness of the throat may occur but is usually relieved quickly. Most doctors require that patients do not drive themselves home because of the use of sedation. Complications from an upper endoscopy are rare, but if you experience severe abdominal pain, cough, fever, chills or nausea and vomiting, call your doctor immediately.