About Upper Endoscopy

About Upper Endoscopy

What is Upper Endoscopy?

Upper endoscopy is an examination of the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (which is the first portion of the small intestine). An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny videoscopic camera located on the end.  The camera transmits an image to a TV monitor enabling the doctor to detect any abnormal changes in the lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.  An anesthetic gargle may be used and intravenous (IV) sedation is used so there is no discomfort or gagging.

What are the indications for this procedure?

Abdominal pain, chronic heartburn, non-cardiac chest pain, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and anemia are evaluated with this procedure.  A cause for these symptoms is often found and specific treatment can then be prescribed.  For people who are discovered to have an ulcer associated with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, we recommend an acid reduction medication or proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and two (2) antibiotics. Click here to see associated website.

What preparation is required for upper endoscopy?

A person undergoing this procedure should have an empty stomach, meaning nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before the test.  Because sedation is given, a designated driver is necessary to take the patient home after the procedure.  If a patient is taking Coumadin, Plavix, Aspirin, Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medication, there may need to be dose adjustments. If you are taking insulin or other diabetes medication, please let the scheduler know as medication adjustments may need to be made to reduce the risk of low blood sugar.

How long does the procedure last?

The procedure itself takes about 15-30 minutes and is followed by 1 hour in the recovery area.

Will the procedure be painful?

A topical anesthetic gargle together with a sedative is given to prevent gagging or any significant discomfort.  The sedatives are so effective that most people do not remember the procedure.

What will happen if biopsies are performed?

Biopsies or tissue samples can be safely obtained for examination under the microscope. Biopsies are taken with forceps that are passed through a channel in the endoscope.  Small, superficial pieces of the lining are obtained with pinch forceps.  Results are usually available within a week.  Our office will send you a written letter detailing the results of the biopsy and if/when a repeat exam will be due.

How often is repeat upper endoscopy required?

Repeat upper endoscopy may be recommended to make certain an ulcer has healed.  If Barrett’s esophagus has been identified by biopsy, repeat endoscopy is usually performed at specific times with biopsies obtained to look for pre-cancerous changes.  For those with significant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and/or Barrett’s esophagus, we recommend a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to suppress acid production on a daily basis indefinitely.

What are the safety issues associated with upper endoscopy?

Upper endoscopy is a safe procedure.  Precautions are taken to avoid problems like infection, bleeding or perforation.  All patients have their oxygen level, cardiac status, blood pressure and pulse monitored carefully during the procedure.  Complications rarely occur.