An Upper Endoscopy is the visual examination of the inside esophagus and stomach and duodenum. The procedure is performed using a lighted, flexible tube connected to an eyepiece or video screen for viewing. This device is called an endoscope.
The upper endoscope is a remarkable piece of equipment that can be directed and moved around the bends in the esophagus and stomach. The images of the esophagus and stomach are transmitted through the endoscope either to the eyepiece or a video screen. An open channel in the scope allows other instruments to be passed through it to take tissue samples (biopsies) or to remove polyps.
Reasons for the Exam
The upper endoscopy is performed to diagnose the cause of certain symptoms. It is also used as preventative measure to detect problems at an early stage, even before the patient recognizes symptoms. The following are some reasons for performing an upper endoscopy:
Nausea or vomiting
Abdominal pain or chest pain
Preparation for the Test
To obtain the full benefit of the exam and allow a thorough inspection the stomach should be completely empty. This means that you cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure. Specific instructions for preparation are provided beforehand.
Upper Endoscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. It is performed with the patient lying on the left side. A bite block is usually place in the patient’s mouth to keep the mouth open. The patient is sedated with MAC. For the procedure you will swallow a thin flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope blows air into the stomach; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
The benefits of an Upper Endoscopy include:
The Physician can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, through the endoscope that don’t show up well on x-rays.
Polyps and tumors can be discovered at an early stage.
The physician can insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests.
Alternative testing includes barium x-ray exams or CAT scan with contrast.
Side Effects and Risks
If biopsies are done or if a polyp is removed, there may be some spotting of blood. However, this is rarely serious. Due to sedation, the patient should not drive or operate machinery for the remainder of the day following the exam.
An Upper Endoscopy is a simple outpatient exam which can uncover a serious medical problem. Specific diagnoses can be made. Treatment programs can be evaluated, or reassurance can be provided when the exam is normal. It is one of the most useful and simple exams in medicine.