What is Upper GI Endoscopy?
term "endoscopy" refers to a special technique
for looking inside a part of the body. "Upper
GI" is the portion of gastrointestinal tract
(the digestive system) that includes the esophagus,
the swallowing tube leading to the stomach, which
is connected to the duodenum, the beginning of the
small intestine. The esophagus carries food from the
mouth for digestion in the stomach and duodenum.
Upper GI endoscopy is a procedure
performed by a gastroenterologist, a well-trained
subspecialist who uses the endoscopy to diagnose and,
in some cases, treat problems of the upper digestive
The endoscope is a long thin, flexible
tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end.
By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope,
the gastroenterologist can safely guide the instrument
to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper
The high quality picture from the
endoscope is shown on a TV monitor; it gives a clear,
detailed view. In many cases, upper GI endoscopy is
a more precise examination than X-ray studies.
How is it done?
During the procedure, everything
will be done to help you be as comfortable as possible.
Your blood pressure, pulse, and the oxygen level in
your blood will be carefully monitored. Your doctor
may give you a sedative medication; the drug will
make you relaxed and drowsy, but you will remain awake
enough to cooperate.
You may also have your throat sprayed
or be asked to gargle with a local anesthetic to help
keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed. A
supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep
your mouth open during the endoscopy. Once you are
fully prepared, your doctor will gently maneuver the
endoscope into position.
As the endoscope is slowly and carefully
inserted, air is introduced through it to help your
doctor see better. During the procedure, you should
feel no pain and it will not interfere with your breathing.
Your doctor will use the endoscope
to look closely for any problems that may require
evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment.
In some cases, it may be necessary
to take a sample of tissue, called a biopsy, for later
examination under the microscope. This too is a painless
procedure. In other cases, the endoscope can be used
to treat a problem such as active bleeding from an
When your endoscopy is completed,
you'll be cared for in a recovery area until most
effects of the medication have worn off.
Your doctor will inform you about
the results of the procedure and provide any additional
information you need to know.
After your Upper GI endoscopy, you
will be given instructions regarding how soon you
can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming
your normal activity.
By the time you are ready to go
home, you'll feel stronger and more alert. Nevertheless,
you should plan on resting for the remainder of the
day. This means not driving, so you'll need to have
a family member or friend take you home.
Why is it done?
Upper GI endoscopy can be helpful
in the evaluation or diagnosis of various problems,
including difficult or painful swallowing, pain in
the stomach or abdomen, and bleeding, ulcers, and
Risks & complications
Years of experience have proved
that Upper GI endoscopy is a safe procedure. Typically,
it takes only 15-20 minutes. Complications rarely
occur. These include perforation - a puncture of the
intestinal wall, which could require transfusion.
Occasionally, minor problems may
persist, such as a mild sore throat, bloating, or
cramping; these should disappear in 24 hours or less.
As sedation medications need to
be used for the procedure, there are risks associated
with the medications used, for example, allergic reaction
and/or side effects. As with any invasive procedures,
there are also risks of infections.
Again, these complications are unlikely.
Be sure to discuss any specific concerns you may have
with your doctor.
The doctor may discuss alternative
approaches to Upper GI endoscopy with you.
Patients who are deemed fit after
assessment(s) with the specialist(s).