How It Is Done
How is an upper GI endoscopy done?
Before the test
Before the test, you will put on a hospital gown. If you are wearing dentures, jewelry, contact lenses, or glasses, remove them. For your own comfort, empty your bladder before the test.
Blood tests may be done to check for a low blood count or clotting problems. Your throat may be numbed with an anesthetic spray, gargle, or lozenge. This is to relax your gag reflex and make it easier to insert the endoscope into your throat.
During the test
You may get a pain medicine and a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm or hand. These medicines reduce pain and will make you feel relaxed and drowsy during the test. You may not remember much about the actual test.
You will be asked to lie on your left side with your head bent slightly forward. A mouth guard may be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth from the endoscope (scope). Then the lubricated tip of the scope will be guided into your mouth. Your doctor may gently press your tongue out of the way. You may be asked to swallow to help move the tube along. The scope is no thicker than many foods you swallow. It will not cause problems with breathing.
After the scope is in your esophagus, your head will be tilted upright. This makes it easier for the scope to slide down your esophagus. During the procedure, try not to swallow unless you are asked to. Someone may remove the saliva from your mouth with a suction device. Or you can allow the saliva to drain from the side of your mouth.
Your doctor will look through an eyepiece or watch a screen while he or she slowly moves the endoscope. The doctor will check the walls of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Air or water may be injected through the scope to help clear a path for the scope or to clear its lens. Suction may be applied to remove air or secretions.
A camera attached to the scope takes pictures. The doctor may also insert tiny tools such as forceps, clips, and swabs through the scope to collect tissue samples (biopsy), remove growths, or stop bleeding.
To make it easier for your doctor to see different parts of your upper GI tract, someone may change your position or apply gentle pressure to your belly. After the exam is done, the scope is slowly pulled out.
After the test
You will feel groggy after the test until the medicine wears off. This usually takes a few hours. Many people report that they remember very little of the test because of the sedative given before and during the test.
If your throat was numbed before the test, don't eat or drink until your throat is no longer numb and your gag reflex has returned to normal.
How long the test takes
The test usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. But it may take longer, depending on what is found and what is done during the test.