Upper Endoscopy - (click for PDF)

Upper GI tractThe term "upper endoscopy" refers to a special technique for looking inside the upper portion of the gastro-intestinal tract that includes the esophagus, the stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).

The endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope, the gastroenterologist can safely guide the instrument to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper digestive system.

Upper GI endoscopy can be helpful in the evaluation of various problems, including difficult or painful swallowing, pain in the stomach or abdomen, and bleeding, ulcers and tumors. Tiny instruments can be passed through an opening in the endoscope to obtain tissue samples, coagulate (stop) bleeding sites, dilate or stretch a narrowed area, or perform other treatments.

Instructions

If you take aspirin, plavix, coumadin, or other blood thinners, please discuss this with Dr. Zinkin prior to the exam. Dr. Zinkin may recommend stopping or continuing these medications prior to the exam, depending on your individual circumstances. In addition, if you have diabetes and take insulin or other diabetic medications, please discuss this with Dr. Zinkin.

If you have a morning procedure, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. You may have your morning medications with a small sip of water.

If you have an afternoon procedure, you must not eat anything after midnight the night before, but you may have clear liquids up to 4 hours before your procedure time.

You must arrange for a ride home as you will not be permitted to drive after the procedure. Please plan to take the rest of the day off from work and driving.

During the procedure

During the procedure, everything will be done to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible. An intravenous line, or IV, will be placed to give you medication (propofol) to put you to sleep. You may also have your throat sprayed or be asked to gargle with a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed through. A supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep your mouth open during the endoscopy.

The scope is carefully advanced to the small intestine and the upper intestinal tract is examined. The time needed for endoscopy will vary, depending in part on what is found and what is done; on average, the procedure takes about 5 minutes.

Possible complications

Years of experience have proved that upper GI endoscopy is a safe procedure. Complications rarely occur. These include perforation, puncture of the intestinal wall that could require surgical repair, and bleeding, which could require transfusion. Again, these complications are unlikely.

After the Procedure

When your endoscopy is completed you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. You will be informed about the results of the procedure and be provided any additional information you need to know. Plan to rest for the remainder of the day after your endoscopy. This means not driving, so you will need to arrange to have a family member or friend take you home. We also ask that you not work and not make any important decisions for the remainder of the day. You should be able to resume all normal activities by the following day.