If you are struggling with gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, heartburn, and gas, your doctor might recommend a procedure called an upper endoscopy. You may have heard of the procedure before and have a vague idea what is involved, but you may not be sure how to prepare or what to expect.
Endoscopies are quick procedures that take only a matter of minutes to complete and can provide your doctor with additional information. This information can be used to provide more effective treatments. Here are a few frequently asked questions about upper endoscopies, including what to expect.
What Is an Upper Endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy is an examination of the upper gastrointestinal, or GI, tract using an instrument called an endoscope, which is a tube with a small camera and flashlight attached to the end. The tube, which is very long and thin, is carefully inserted into the patient’s esophagus. The doctor will use a monitor to guide the endoscope and perform any necessary tests, diagnose a condition, perform a repair, or remove a growth or unwanted object.
The endoscope may have an additional tool that the doctor needs to take tissue or cell samples or repair upper GI damage. An upper endoscopy is typically an outpatient procedure your doctor will perform at a hospital or clinic.
What Conditions Can an Upper Endoscopy Detect?
An upper endoscopy is often recommended if the patient is dealing with a variety of symptoms, including nausea, issues swallowing, unexplained upper GI pain, or unexpected weight loss. One purpose of an upper endoscopy is to provide more information that can lead to a diagnosis. Here are a few conditions that can be diagnosed with the help of an upper endoscopy:
- Celiac disease
- Certain types of cancers
- Crohn’s disease in the upper GI tract
A doctor will sometimes use an upper endoscopy to remove polyps or widen an esophagus that has narrowed.
How Do I Prepare for My Upper Endoscopy?
Your doctor will provide a list of do’s and don’ts to follow in the days and hours before your upper endoscopy. For example, because of a slight risk of bleeding, your doctor will ask you to stop taking any anticoagulants and over-the-counter medications that can thin the blood, such as aspirin. Avoid eating for several hours before the procedure.
Discuss any other conditions that can impact your ability to stop eating or drinking water before the procedure. For example, if you are a diabetic, you may need to eat every few hours to control your blood sugar. You and your doctor can devise a plan to help you control your blood sugar levels while you prepare for your upper endoscopy.
Ask a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you for the first few hours after the procedure. You will receive a mild sedative during the procedure, and the sedation will make it difficult and unsafe to drive yourself home.
What Happens During the Procedure?
The doctor will ask you to arrive a few hours before the procedure. Take this opportunity to ask your doctor any questions about the procedure and discuss any fears you have moving forward. A healthcare provider will ask you several questions, including if you have followed the doctor’s orders concerning any medications you were asked to stop and if you haven’t eaten food for several hours before the procedure.
Next, a healthcare provider will ask you to put on a gown and remove any jewelry or glasses. You will be taken into an exam room and asked to lie down on your side. This position will make it easier for the endoscope to be inserted and carefully lowered down your esophagus. You will be given a sedative to help you relax and remain calm during the procedure.
The doctor will spray a numbing medication in the back of your throat to help prevent any gagging and make the procedure more comfortable. The endoscope is inserted next and it is carefully led down your esophagus and stomach. The doctor may blow a small amount of air into your throat to help widen the esophagus.
If the doctor is taking a biopsy, a small tool will be placed on the endoscope to take a sample. Your doctor will monitor you throughout the procedure. It won’t take long before the endoscope is removed and you can wake up and relax.
What Happens After My Upper Endoscopy?
You will feel groggy for several hours after the procedure and might have a slight sore throat. You can expect to remain in recovery for a few hours, until the sedative has worn off. The endoscopy results will be sent to your doctor or a specialist who will discuss them with you.
If you were recently scheduled an upper endoscopy, chances are you have many questions. Contact the professionals at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates to help you gain a better understanding of the procedure.