Upper Endoscopy

What is upper endoscopy?

Upper endoscopy is a procedure to see the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract including esophagus (tube connecting mouth to stomach), stomach and duodenum (first part of small intestine).

Why is upper endoscopy performed?

Upper endoscopy is performed if the patient has:

  • Unexplained pain in upper part of abdomen
  • Acid reflux
  • Prolonged nausea and vomiting
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Hematemesis (blood in vomit) or melena (black / dark blood in stools)
  • Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
  • Abnormality in other tests related to gastrointestinal tract
  • Swallowing something that should be swallowed
  • Ulcers or abnormal growths in digestive tract

What should I do before an upper endoscopy?

Discuss in detail about any precautions or preparation before the upper endoscopy. Your doctor may advise you not to eat or drink anything including any routine medication you’re taking (medicines may need to be stopped for a week before procedure sometimes). Read the instructions as soon as you receive them. Discuss with your doctor if you have any confusion.

What happens during an upper endoscopy?

You’ll receive intravenous medicines to make you relax along with a medicine in the form of gargles or mouth spray to numb your mouth. You’ll receive a mouth guard made of plastic to protect your teeth during the procedure.

Your doctor will then introduce a thin tube, endoscope, with camera and light at its end into your mouth. The tube will go all the way through esophagus up to the stomach and duodenum. The doctor will look for any growths, ulcers, irritation or bleeding during the procedure.

During the procedure, the doctor may also look for:

  • Do a biopsy by taking small tissue pieces from the gastrointestinal tract lining (painless) and send it to the pathologist for examination under microscope.
  • Treat any issue they see during the procedure like bleeding inside the tract, remove any abnormal and removable growth, widen any narrowing of esophagus that were causing difficulty in swallowing, etc.

What happens after an upper endoscopy?

You’ll be retained for observation for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure until the affect of medicines goes off. It’s recommended not to drive or go to work for rest of the day following upper endoscopy. You can follow normal routine from the next day.

What are the side effects of an upper endoscopy?

Common side effects of upper endoscopy include bloating and nausea due to medicines used for the procedure. Talk to your doctor if you’re having any symptoms after the procedure and he can advice medicine accordingly. Most people can start eating normally after the procedure.

Several less common side effects of upper endoscopy include:

  • Food getting into the lungs from stomach
  • Bleeding (after removing any growth for example)
  • Tear or injury in the lining of digestive tract
  • Redness of skin and swelling around the IV cannulation

Should I call my doctor or nurse?

You should contact your doctor immediately if you’re having any of these issues after upper endoscopy:

  • Abdominal pain, more than gas or cramps
  • Hard and bloated abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Throat pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Black bowel movements
  • Crunching feeling in neck under the skin