Upper GI Endoscopy

Diagnosing Without Surgery

Your doctor has advised you to have an endoscopy, a non-surgical procedure that can help your doctor diagnose your digestive problem. Endoscopy is the only non-surgical procedure for directly viewing the upper digestive tract. This routine exam, allows your doctor to see directly inside your upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract. Based on the results of your exam, your doctor can determine the best course of action for treating or managing the cause of your problem.

Through the Looking Glass

Your doctor examines the lining of your upper digestive tract by looking through an endoscope. This state-of-the-art instrument, consisting of an eyepiece and a thin, flexible tube, contains threadlike fibers of glass that beam light and send images back to the eyepiece. The tube has several openings through which instruments can be passed to obtain tissue samples or remove possible growths. A camera can be attached to the eyepiece to take pictures for further study. Some endoscopes use computer technology, which produces an enlarged view of your upper digestive tract on a TV screen.

Viewing Your Problem

Your upper digestive tract, which includes your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, normally has a smooth lining. If during your endoscopy your doctor sees an abnormality such as an area of inflammation, a growth, or ulceration your doctor will take further steps to diagnose and treat your condition. A biopsy (tissue sample), can provide additional information to help your doctor treat your condition. Inflammation of the esophagus, the passageway that leads to the stomach, can be examined and diagnosed. Growths found in the stomach can be biopsied during endoscopy to determine the best course of treatment. Ulcers in the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, may be photographed for further study.

During Endoscopy

During your procedure, your throat may be anesthetized and you'll be asked to swallow a narrow, flexible endoscope tube. This is much easier than most people expect it to be. To give your doctor a clear view, air will be used to temporarily expand your upper GI tract. Depending on what your doctor sees, your doctor may be able to treat the problem immediately, or a biopsy may be taken. When the exam is over, usually within 15-30 minutes. You'll be taken to the recovery area.

After Endoscopy

While recovering, you'll be monitored for about 30-45 minutes until you are ready to go home. Within a few hours after you return home, you should be able to resume some of your usual activities. After the sedation has worn off and the sensation has returned to the back of your throat, usually within a couple of hours, you will be able to eat normally. You may have a mild sore throat for about 24 hours or so. Burping can help relieve the bloated feeling caused by the use of air during the endoscopy.

Your Results

If your problem was treated during the exam, your doctor may give you special instructions to follow. If a biopsy was performed, allow several days for the results. If necessary, further studies or treatments may be recommended.

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