What Is an Upper Endoscopy? How Do You Prepare for One?

If you have unexplained abdominal pain, nausea, or weight loss, you may require an upper endoscopy to diagnose issues with your upper digestive system. Centers for Gastroenterology provides state-of-the-art upper endoscopy procedures to help diagnose stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and many other disorders. An upper endoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lining of your gastrointestinal tract’s upper part, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper portion of the small intestine). You might hear your doctor refer to an upper endoscopy procedure as upper GI endoscopy, panendoscopy, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), as these are all terms used to describe the same procedure.

Because an empty stomach allows for the best and safest examinations, you shouldn’t have anything to eat or drink, including water, for approximately six hours before your upper endoscopy. Your doctor will tell you when to begin fasting, as the timing can vary. You’ll also need to stop taking any medications that could thin the blood, including aspirin or those you may take for high blood pressure or diabetes. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your upper endoscopy procedure, please reach out to us.

How Is an Upper Endoscopy Performed?

Upper Endoscopy Procedure in Fort Collins, CO

An upper endoscopy is an outpatient procedure that usually takes less than an hour. During the procedure, your doctor 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. Your doctor might start by spraying your throat with a local anesthetic or by giving you a sedative to help you relax. You’ll then lie on your side, and your doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Although the endoscope pumps air into your stomach and duodenum to see your organs more clearly, it shouldn’t interfere with your breathing. Most patients consider the test only slightly uncomfortable, and many patients fall asleep during the procedure. If necessary, the doctor will remove small pieces of tissue that require a biopsy for additional examinations or perform certain treatments.

Why Do Healthcare Providers Perform Upper Endoscopies?

When it comes to problems with the upper digestive system, upper endoscopies are invaluable diagnostic tools that are often more accurate than X-rays. Upper endoscopies are commonly used to diagnose and treat stomach (peptic) ulcers, acid reflux and GERD, cancerous and noncancerous tumors, gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, swallowing disorders, inflammations caused by esophagitis, gastritis, or duodenitis, and other issues affecting the digestive tract. For the best results, your doctor may order an upper endoscopy procedure along with X-rays or an ultrasound.

What Does an Upper Endoscopy Procedure Treat?

Sometimes, upper endoscopy procedures are not just used to diagnose gastrointestinal disorders. They may be used to remove tumors, polyps, or swallowed objects. They may also be used to stretch a narrow digestive tract or to control bleeding in the upper digestive tract. If a biopsy is ordered during your upper endoscopy, it could take a week or two for us to get your results back from the lab.

What Should I Expect After an Upper Endoscopy Procedure?

Because you’ll likely be given a sedative before your upper endoscopy, you’ll need to wait a little bit before leaving our office and make arrangements for someone else to drive you home. Your throat may be hoarse for a few days after this procedure. Centers for Gastroenterology recommend sticking to a soft diet and using throat lozenges to ease any coughing or throat irritations. Some patients also experience minor bloating or nausea due to the anesthesia. However, most can resume their everyday activities the next day. While an upper endoscopy is a very low-risk procedure, some patients may experience complications, ranging from an allergic reaction to the sedative to digestive tract bleeding or infection. Always contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe throat, chest, or abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, fever, and chills, chronic cough, rectal bleeding, or coughing up or vomiting blood afterward.

Contact Centers for Gastroenterology for an Appointment

Contact Centers for Gastroenterology today to request an appointment, inquire about biopsy results, or learn more about this type of outpatient procedure. You can find our patient forms online prior to your appointment, as well as billing and insurance information. Please let us know how we can help!

From the American Gastroenterological Association
References: ASGE, American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy