Upper GI Endoscopy

Outline of woman showing mouth, esophagus, and stomach with endoscope inserted through mouth into stomach.
During endoscopy, a long, flexible tube is used to view the inside of your upper GI tract.
Upper GI endoscopy allows your healthcare provider to look directly into the beginning of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) make up the upper GI tract. 

Before the exam

Follow these and any other instructions you are given before your endoscopy. If you don’t follow the healthcare provider’s instructions carefully, the test may need to be canceled or done over:

  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your exam. If your exam is in the afternoon, drink only clear liquids in the morning. Don't eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the exam. In some cases, you may be able to take medicines with sips of water until 2 hours before the procedure. Speak with your healthcare provider about this. 

  • Bring your X-rays and any other test results you have.

  • Because you will be sedated, arrange for an adult to drive you home after the exam.

  • Tell your healthcare provider before the exam if you are taking any medicines or have any medical problems.

The procedure

Here is what to expect:

  • You will lie on the endoscopy table. Usually patients lie on the left side.

  • You will be monitored and given oxygen.

  • Your throat may be numbed with a spray or gargle. You are given medicine through an intravenous (IV) line that will help you relax and remain comfortable. You may be awake or asleep during the procedure.

  • The healthcare provider will put the endoscope in your mouth and down your esophagus. It is thinner than most pieces of food that you swallow. It will not affect your breathing. The medicine helps keep you from gagging.

  • Air is put into your GI tract to expand it. It can make you burp.

  • During the procedure, the healthcare provider can take biopsies (tissue samples), remove abnormalities, such as polyps, or treat abnormalities through a variety of devices placed through the endoscope. You will not feel this. 

  • The endoscope carries images of your upper GI tract to a video screen. If you are awake, you may be able to look at the images.

  • After the procedure is done, you will rest for a time. An adult must drive you home.

When to call your healthcare provider

Contact your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stool

  • Fever

  • Pain in your belly that does not go away

  • Nausea and vomiting, or vomiting blood

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