If you have been experiencing upper gastrointestinal bleeding, pain, problems swallowing, nausea, persistent heartburn, unexplained weight loss, anemia, or nutritional deficiencies, your doctor may perform an upper GI endoscopy.
To perform an upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy, your doctor inserts an endoscope—a flexible tube with a light and a camera—down your esophagus. The endoscope allows the doctor to gather information about your upper gastrointestinal tract, do a biopsy to find cancer, and perform other procedures as needed.
Prior to the Procedure
The procedure uses a mild sedative and involves examining the inner lining of your esophagus, duodenum, and stomach, so you will need to be prepared in advance. Before the procedure, you should:
- Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum within 8 hours prior to the procedure
- Arrange for a ride home since you’ll be under the influence of the sedatives for about 24 hours
- Plan to rest for the remainder of the day
Also, make certain your doctor is aware of any medical conditions and medications you’re taking since they may interact with the sedatives.
What to Expect
A GI endoscopy is performed at a hospital as an outpatient procedure. The steps your doctor will follow for this procedure include:
- Through IV, you’ll be administered a sedative to keep you relaxed
- You’ll get either a liquid anesthetic to gargle or a spray anesthetic for the back of your throat to numb the area and prevent you from gagging
- The doctor will ask you to lie on your side, at which point the endoscope will be fed down your throat
- During the endoscopy, your doctor may perform other procedures as mentioned above
You don’t need to worry about choking or gagging—the procedure does not affect your breathing at all. In many cases, people will actually fall asleep during the procedure. Once it’s complete, you’ll stay at the hospital for an hour or two to let the sedative wear off, after which you’ll be able to head home.