The upper endoscopy: an important diagnostic tool

The upper endoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose upper digestive system problems. The term “endoscopy” refers to a special technique for looking inside a part of the body. “Upper GI” is the portion of the gastrointestinal tract and the digestive system, that includes the esophagus, the stomach, and the duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine. The esophagus carries food from the mouth for digestion in the stomach and small intestine.

An Upper GI Endoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose and, in some cases, treat problems of the upper digestive system. The endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope, Dr. SinghDr. RashbaumDr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, or Dr. Long B. Nguyen, north Atlanta gastroenterologists, will safely guide the instrument to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper digestive system. The high-quality picture from the endoscope is shown on a TV monitor providing a clear, detailed view. In many cases, an Upper GI Endoscopy is a more precise examination than X-ray studies and can be helpful in evaluating or diagnosing various problems, including difficult or painful swallowing, pain in the stomach or abdomen, and bleeding ulcers or tumors. In addition, tiny instruments can be passed through an opening in the endoscope tube to obtain tissue samples, coagulate (stop) bleeding sites, dilate or stretch a narrowed area, or perform other treatments.

Preparation

Regardless of why an Upper GI Endoscopy has been recommended for you, there are important steps you can take to prepare for and participate in the procedure.

  • Provide a complete list of all the medicines you are taking: including any over-the-counter medications and natural supplements, as well as any allergies to drugs or other substances.
  • Your physician will also want to know if you have a heart, lung or other medical condition that may need special attention before, during or after an Upper GI Endoscopy.
  • It is very important they know if you are taking diabetic medications or anticoagulants (sometimes called blood thinners) or have bleeding or clotting problems.
  • Patients are given instructions in advance that outline what they should and should not do to prepare for an Upper GI Endoscopy.
  • You must not eat or drink within eight to 10 hours prior to your procedure. Food in the stomach will block the view through the Endoscope and it could cause vomiting.
  • You will be asked to sign a form, which verifies that you consent to having the procedure and that you understand what is involved. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for more information.

Learn more about Upper GI Endoscopy preparation+

About the Procedure

An Upper GI Endoscopy can be done in a hospital, an ambulatory surgery center or an outpatient office. During the procedure, everything will be done to help you be as comfortable as possible. Your blood pressure, pulse and blood oxygen level will be carefully monitored. Your physician may give you a sedative to help make you relaxed and drowsy, but you will remain awake enough to cooperate. You may also have your throat sprayed or be asked to gargle with a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed through. A supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep your mouth open during the procedure. Once you are fully prepared, the endoscope will be gently maneuvered into position.

As the endoscope is slowly and carefully inserted, air is introduced to help Dr. Singh or Dr. Rashbaum look closely for any problems that may require evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. During the procedure, you should feel little to no pain and it will not interfere with your breathing. In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample of tissue, called a biopsy, for later examination under the microscope. This, too, is a painless procedure. In other cases, the endoscope can be used to treat a problem such as active bleeding from an ulcer.

Years of experience have proven that an Upper GI Endoscopy is a safe procedure that takes only 15 to 20 minutes to perform. Complications rarely occur. These include perforation, puncture of the intestinal wall that could require surgical repair, and bleeding, which could require transfusion.

Aftercare and Recovery

When your Upper GI Endoscopy is completed, you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. You will be informed about the results of the procedure and any additional information you need to know. Patients are also given instructions regarding how soon they can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming normal activities. Occasionally, minor problems may persist, such as a mild sore throat, bloating, or cramping – these symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours. By the time you are ready to go home, you will feel more alert; however, you should plan on resting for the remainder of the day. This means no driving, so you will need to have a family member or friend take you home.


Board certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Tammi D’Elena, PA-C; and Vanessa T. Dang, MSN, APRN; care for patients in the north Atlanta, GA; Digestive Care Physicians has four locations including Alpharetta, GA; Cumming, GA; Johns Creek, GA; and Lawrenceville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at the Johns Creek location of Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from abdominal pain, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.