Performed to detect inflammation and other complications, an upper endoscopy is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that gives the gastroenterologist a live view of the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract. This includes the mouth and throat, the esophagus (the tube through which food passes), the stomach, and the top of the small intestine (duodenum). Note: There are various forms of endoscopies, and the specific approach will depend on the patient’s symptoms.
The upper endoscopy is performed using an endoscope – a thin, flexible tube equipped with a tiny, lighted camera. The gastroenterologist inserts the endoscope into the patient’s mouth and gently passes it down the esophagus, then through the stomach, and as far as the duodenum. The patient, lying on the side, will be able to breathe comfortably during the procedure and will be given medication to relax or sleep.
As the scope is passing through the upper gastrointestinal tract, the camera will send wireless images to a nearby monitor, which the gastroenterologist can review for signs of inflammation, lesions, or other complications.
If the patient is sedated for this procedure, then a ride home must be arranged in advance. Fasting, including liquids, will be required for at least six hours prior to the test (your doctor will provide specifics). This is necessary to ensure the stomach is empty. The doctor will want a complete list of current medications.
The patient’s throat may be sore, and stomach may feel bloated right after the procedure.