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Identify Upper Gastrointestinal Problems with Upper Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy is a procedure our board certified physicians use to examine and diagnose problems in the upper GI tract – the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine). Performed with an endoscope, a thin, flexible instrument, the procedure allows for the evaluation of persistent upper abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing. An upper GI endoscopy is also the best method for finding the source of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract, and detecting inflammation, ulcers, and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

The Power of Upper Endoscopy

Upper endoscopy lets us examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine). We will use a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, and will view the images on a video monitor. You might hear us refer to upper endoscopy as upper GI endoscopy, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).

Why is Upper Endoscopy Done?

Upper endoscopy helps us evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It’s the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. Upper endoscopy is more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers, and tumors of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

We might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). Remember, biopsies are taken for many reasons, and we might take one even if we do not suspect cancer. For example, we might use a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers.

Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. We can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities with little or no discomfort. For example, we might stretch a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding.

How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?

An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately six hours before the examination. We will tell you when to start fasting.

Tell us in advance about any medications you take, especially blood thinners; you might need to adjust your usual dose, or temporarily discontinue them, for the examination. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease with us.

Also, alert us if you require antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures, because you might need antibiotics prior to an upper endoscopy as well.

What Can I Expect During Upper Endoscopy?

First, you will meet our anesthesiology team who will administer the anesthesia during the procedure. You will then lie on your side, and we will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing. You will fall asleep before the procedure starts, once the anesthesia is administered.

What Happens After Upper Endoscopy?

You will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel bloated because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test. You will be able to eat after you leave unless we instruct you otherwise.

We generally can tell you your test results on the day of the procedure; however, the results of some tests might take several days.

You won’t be allowed to drive after the procedure even though you might not feel tired. You should arrange for someone to accompany you home because the anesthesia might affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day.

What are the Possible Complications of Upper Endoscopy?

Bleeding can occur at a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed, but it’s usually minimal and rarely requires follow-up. Other potential risks include a reaction to the anesthesia used during the procedure, pneumonia, and perforation (a tear in the gastrointestinal tract lining). It’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications. If, after the test, you have a fever, trouble swallowing, cough, shortness of breath, or increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately.

For more information about upper endoscopy, visit Long Island Digestive Disease Consultants.

Upper endoscopy may be used to obtain a small tissue sample to determine whether any tissue abnormal in appearance is benign or malignant.”