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Brief Description

Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses an endoscope (a long, flexible tube with a camera) to see the lining of your upper GI tract. A gastroenterologist, surgeon, or other trained doctor performs the procedure, most often while you receive light sedation.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Upper GI endoscopy can help find the cause of unexplained symptoms, such as persistent heartburn, bleeding, nausea and vomiting, pain, problems with swallowing and unexplained weight loss. It can also find the cause of abnormal lab tests, such as anaemia and nutritional deficiencies.

Upper GI endoscopy can identify many different diseases such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, cancer, inflammation, or swelling, precancerous abnormalities, celiac disease, etc.

It can also be used to treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers, dilate strictures with a small balloon passed through the endoscope and remove objects, including food that may be stuck in the upper GI tract

How the Procedure is Performed

An intravenous (IV) needle will be placed in your arm to provide a sedative. Sedatives help you stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. In some cases, the procedure can be performed without sedation.

You will be given a liquid anaesthetic to gargle or spray anaesthetic on the back of your throat. The anaesthetic numbs your throat and calms the gag reflex. The health care staff will monitor your vital signs and keep you as comfortable as possible.

You’ll be asked to lie on your side on an exam table. The doctor will carefully feed the endoscope down your oesophagus and into your stomach and duodenum.

A small camera mounted on the endoscope will send a video image to a monitor, allowing close examination of the lining of your upper GI tract.

The endoscope pumps air into your stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see.

During the procedure, your doctor may perform a biopsy of tissue in your upper GI tract. You won’t feel the biopsy. He or she may also stop any bleeding and perform other specialized procedures, such as dilating strictures.

The procedure most often takes between 15 and 30 minutes.

How to Prepare For the Procedure

You should talk with your doctor about medical conditions you have and all prescribed and over- the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements you take.

You will need to make plans for getting a ride home after the procedure. To make sure your upper GI tract is clear, the doctor will most often advise you not to eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum during the 8 hours before the procedure.

During the Procedure

You may not remember much about the procedure because of the sedatives. The endoscope does not interfere with your breathing, and many people fall asleep during the procedure.

After the Procedure

You will have to stay at the hospital or outpatient unit for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure so the sedative can wear off. Bloating or nausea for a short time is common. You may have a sore throat for 1 to 2 days.

You (or a friend or family member who is with you if you’re still groggy) will receive instructions on how to care for yourself following the procedure. You should follow all the instructions.


The risks of an upper GI endoscopy include:

  •  Bleeding from the site where the doctor took the biopsy or removed a polyp
  •  Perforation in the lining of your upper GI tract
  •  An abnormal reaction to the sedative, including respiratory or cardiac problems

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