Upper GI endoscopy is an examination of the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine). It is conducted with a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, and will view the images on a video monitor. You might hear medical or nursing staff describe the procedure as upper GI endoscopy, gastroscopy or oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy (OGD). These all mean the same thing.
Why is upper endoscopy done?
Upper endoscopy helps to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It’s the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It’s also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumours of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.
Sometimes a biopsy (small tissue sample) is taken. Biopsies are taken for many reasons. For example, it is possible to test for Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers.
Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Instruments can be passed through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities and this will cause little or no discomfort. For example, it is possible to stretch (dilate) a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding.
What preparations are required?
Please follow the instructions that have been given to you.
Can I take my current medications?
Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination. This will have been discussed at your consultation,
What happens during upper endoscopy?
The first step is to spray your throat with a local anaesthetic and usually giving you a sedative to help you relax. You will then lie on your side, and the endoscope will be passed through your mouth and into the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing. Most patients consider the test only slightly uncomfortable, and many patients fall asleep during the procedure.
What happens after upper endoscopy?
You will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel bloated because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test.
What are the possible complications of upper endoscopy?
Complications after upper endoscopy are very uncommon, but it is important to recognise warning signs. Contact a doctor immediately if you have a fever after the test or if you notice trouble swallowing or increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, or bleeding, including black stools. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure.