Upper endoscopy is a procedure that enables the doctor to take a look at the lining of the upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. During the procedure, the patient lies down and the doctor will put an endoscope, a thin tube with a light and camera on the end, into the mouth and down into the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The camera sends pictures from the inside to a screen so the doctor is able to view and have a better understanding of the condition. Upper endoscopy helps to detect and identify inflammation, abnormal growths, ulcers, and tumors as doctors can examine the inside of the upper digestive system.
When will it be carried out?
Your doctor might do an upper endoscopy if you have the following:
- Acid reflux
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Persistent diarrhoea
- Unexplained pain in the upper belly
- Blood in your vomit or black bowel movements
- Having trouble in swallowing or the feeling of food getting stuck in your throat
- A follow-up for the ulcers or growths in your digestive tract
Preparation before doing an upper endoscopy
Your doctor will guide and give your instructions on how you should prepare and what to do prior the procedure. Tell him about any medications or supplements you are currently taking and any medical problems or conditions you have. You might need to stop some medicines before the test or afterward. The procedure also requires you have an empty stomach prior. Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 6 hours before the procedure, or as directed.
During the upper endoscopy
Your doctor will give you a local anesthesia and a sedative intravenously to make feel more relaxed, as well as a mouth spray or gargle to numb your mouth and relieve any pain or discomfort. You will also get to put on a mouth guard to protect your teeth. Your doctor will insert the endoscope into your mouth, through your food pipe (esophagus) and into your stomach. He will look for irritation, inflammation, ulcers, bleeding, or growths. Typically, the procedure will take around 15 to 30 minutes.
During an upper endoscopy, a biopsy may be carried out where a small piece of tissue is taken from the lining of your digestive tract and examine it under a microscope. Your doctor can also treat the problem such as stopping a bleed or removing a growth. After the procedure, you are recommended not to drive or go to work immediately after as you will still feel the effects of the medicines. The results will be discussed with you in your next appointment.
Side effects from the procedure
Common side effects include feeling bloated and nausea, especially due to the medicines used before undergoing upper endoscopy. There are also other side effects that may occur, albeit uncommon such as:
- A tear in the digestive tract lining
- Bleeding after the removal of a growth
- Swelling or redness of the skin around the IV
You should also seek immediate medical attention if you encounter problems after the procedure such as symptoms like vomiting, fever, a bloated and hard belly, black bowel movements, severe throat pain or trouble swallowing, and belly pain that feels worse than cramps or gas pain.