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Upper GI Endoscopy

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Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is a procedure that uses a lighted, flexible endoscope to see inside the upper GI tract. The upper GI tract includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum - the first part of the small intestine. It can detect

  • ulcers
  • abnormal growths
  • precancerous conditions
  • bowel obstruction
  • inflammation
  • hiatal hernia

Upper GI endoscopy can be used to determine the cause of

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • swallowing difficulties
  • gastric reflux
  • unexplained weight loss
  • anemia
  • bleeding in the upper GI tract

Upper GI endoscopy can be used to remove stuck objects, including food, and to treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers. It can also be used to biopsy tissue in the upper GI tract. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed for later examination with a microscope.

  • To prepare for upper GI endoscopy, no eating or drinking is allowed for 4 to 8 hours before the procedure. Smoking and chewing gum are also prohibited.
  • Patients should tell their doctor about all health conditions they have and all medications they are taking.
  • Driving is not permitted for 12 to 24 hours after upper GI endoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the appointment, patients should make plans for a ride home.
  • Before upper GI endoscopy, the patient will receive a local anesthetic to numb the throat.
  • An intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in the arm if a sedative will be given.
  • During upper GI endoscopy, an endoscope is carefully fed into the upper GI tract and images are transmitted to a video monitor.
  • Special tools that slide through the endoscope allow the doctor to perform biopsies, stop bleeding, and remove abnormal growths.
  • After upper GI endoscopy, patients may feel bloated or nauseated and may also have a sore throat.
  • Unless otherwise directed, patients may immediately resume their normal diet and medications.
  • Possible risks of an upper GI endoscopy include abnormal reaction to sedatives, bleeding from biopsy, and accidental puncture of the upper GI tract.

Source: National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)