Learn More About This Important Diagnostic Exam of the Upper Digestive Tract

An Endoscopy procedure is an outpatient procedure that will assist your doctor in diagnosing problems of the upper GI tract.  The Endoscopy procedure is different from an Upper GI series in that it is performed via a tube, inside the body whereas an Upper GI series is a series of x rays performed outside of the body.

This procedure is helpful in detecting:

  • Acid Reflux (GERD)
  • Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis).
  • Narrowing  of the esophagus.
  • Barret's Esophagus-a condition where the lining of the esophagus has become damaged with stomach acid.   This increases the risk for developing esophageal  cancer.
  • Hiatal Hernia-a condition in which a portion of the stomach protrudes up towards into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers

Symptoms which may prompt your primary doctor to recommend an Endoscopy are:

  • Heartburn
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain after eating or drinking
  • Abdominal pain

Preparation for an Endoscopy involves:

  • Informing your doctor of any allergies and medicine you are taking
  • Are taking any type of blood thinning medicine
  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • Are diabetic
  • Have heart problems
  • Have ever had any surgeries that involved your esophagus, stomach or small intestines
  • No eating or drinking past midnight the night before your exam.  The exception to this are clear liquids or clear jello which are allowable providing they are consumed  three hours or more before the procedure.

What happens during the procedure:

  • The  procedure is minimally evasive and will be  performed by a GI doctor. It is almost always done on an outpatient basis.  You will be lying on your left side during the procedure. A  block will be placed in your mouth to keep your mouth open an after sedation (and usually a numbing of your throat), the GI doctor will place a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope down your throat. The scope blows air into the stomach to inflate it, thereby allowing the doctor a more unobstructed view of the organs. The scope then transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum on a monitor.  The GI doctor can examine the lining of these organs and take samples of each for biopsies.

After the procedure:

  • The test usually takes about 20-40 minutes, depending on what is found during the exam. After the test,  you will be taken to a recovery room to be observed for 30 minutes or so until the until the sedative wears off. If any type of numbing agent was used, you will be advised not eat or drink until the numbness goes away and your gag reflex has returned to normal.  A ride home will usually be required for you to leave. 

Other than some possible soreness in the throat and some fatigue from the sedative, you will most likely have no other side effects from the procedure.