Endoscopy Procedure

Your Upper Gastrointestinal Tract

The Upper Gastrointestinal tract is often simply known as the Upper GI, and includes the various parts of your body that are used to break down and digest food after it is swallowed. The Upper GI is made up of the esophagus, the stomach, and the duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. Once food is chewed in the mouth and then swallowed, the esophagus carries the food to the stomach where it is digested, and then sent through the duodenum to the small intestine, where it is broken down even further, and water and nutrients are absorbed into the body.


An endoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure similar to a colonoscopy, except that the endoscopy is used to look inside the upper gastrointestinal tract instead of the colon (the end of the gastrointestinal tract).

During an endoscopy procedure, a long, thin, flexible tube, with a tiny video camera and light on the end, known as an endoscope, is guided through the mouth down in the Upper GI to allow the gastroenterologist to evaluate and treat problems of the Upper GI, and is especially useful in evaluating difficult or painful swallowing, stomach or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bleeding, ulcers, and tumors.

Preparing for an Endoscopy

First, make sure your doctor is aware of all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter ones and natural supplements. Make sure the doctor is aware of your full medical histories, including any heart or lung problems or allergies. It is especially important to let your doctor know if you are taking any blood thinners.

Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for your endoscopy, so make sure to follow them carefully. Any food remaining in the stomach at the time of the procedure will block the view of the endoscope, and could potentially cause vomiting, so your doctor will instruct you to not eat or drink within eight to ten hours of the procedure, and may give you other dietary instructions. If there are any instructions you do not understand, contact your doctor and ask for clarification or more information.

During the Endoscopy

An endoscopy usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete or will sometimes last a little longer is a biopsy if necessary. Before the procedure begins you may be given pain medicine and a sedative through an intravenous (IV) needle in your arm. This will help you relax and reduce the discomfort you might otherwise feel during the endoscopy.

You may also have your throat sprayed or be asked to gargle with an anesthetic to keep you comfortable, and you will be given a supportive mouthpiece to help keep your mouth open. Once you are fully relaxed, the endoscope will be gently inserted. You should feel little or no discomfort, and the process will not interfere with your breathing. The doctor will then examine your Upper GI, and perform any necessary procedures, such as a biopsy, if needed.

Possible Complications

The endoscopy procedure is fairly common, and has been around for many years, so it is a generally safe procedure, and is considered to be minimally invasive. However, as with any medical procedure, some complications are rare, but possible. These complications include perforation or puncture of the intestinal wall (which may need to be treated with surgery) and bleeding (which may require a blood transfusion or reinsertion of the endoscope in order to control the bleeding). However, these complications are exceedingly rare. Always discuss any concerns you have about the procedure with your doctor.

After the Endoscopy

You will be kept in a recovery area until the effects of the medications have worn off, and then you will be debriefed on the results of your endoscopy. You will also be given instructions about how soon you can eat and drink, as well as instructions for resuming normal activity.

You should plan to rest for the remainder of the day, and should not drive, so make sure you have arranged for a family member or friends to drive you home from the procedure. Minor problems may occur, including mild sore throat, bloating, or cramping, but these should disappear within a day. You may be asked to contact a member of the endoscopy team for follow-up a few days later as well, in order to assess your recovery, answer any questions you may have, and to review the results of any biopsies that were performed during the endoscopy.

Oak Tree Surgical Center

Our Procedures

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Colonoscopy Endoscopy Consultative Gastroenterology Hepatology