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An upper GI endoscopy is a test that uses a fiberoptic scope to examine the esophagus, throat, stomach, and upper part of the small intestines.
Upper GI endoscopy may be recommended if you have:
Conditions that can be diagnosed with upper GI endoscopy include:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Leading up to the test:
To numb your throat, you may be given an anesthetic solution to gargle. Or, your throat may be sprayed with a numbing medication. You may be given a sedative through an IV. This is to help you relax during the test.
You may be asked to lie on your left side. You will have monitors tracking your breathing, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. If sedation is used, you will be given supplemental oxygen to breathe through your nose.
A mouthpiece will be positioned to help keep your mouth open. During the test, a small suction tube will be used to clear saliva and fluids from your mouth. The endoscope will be lubricated and placed in your mouth. You will be asked to try to swallow it. Then, it will be carefully and slowly advanced down your throat. It will be passed through your esophagus and into your stomach and intestine.
While the endoscope is being advanced, your doctor will view the images on the screen. Air may be passed through the endoscope into your digestive tract. This will be done to smooth the normal folds in the tissues, allowing your doctor to view the tissue more easily. Tiny tools may be passed through the endoscope in order to take biopsies or do other tests.
After the test, you will be observed for an hour. Then, you will be allowed to go home.
When you return home after the test, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Yes, you will have discomfort during the test. Your throat will be sore. Also, you may feel bloated after the test.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Davila M, Keeffe E. Complications of Upper Endoscopy. In: Feldman M, Friedman L, Sleisenger M. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2002:539-543.
Understanding upper endoscopy. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website. Available at: http://www.asge.org/patients/patients.aspx?id=378. Accessed September 30, 2014.
What is upper GI endoscopy? The American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/info_for_patients/2015/2/9/upper-gi-endoscopy. Updated April 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.