If you suffer from heartburn, stomach pain, or other symptoms of issues with the upper GI tract, then your doctor will likely refer you to a gastroenterologist for an upper endoscopy. This procedure involves inserting a flexible camera tool down your throat, through your esophagus, and into your stomach, generating images of the digestive tract along the way. Initially, you may find the idea of this testing a little intimidating, but once you know what to expect, you should be able to relax a little.
What to Expect When Preparing for Your Upper Endoscopy
The primary step in preparing for your upper endoscopy procedure will be fasting. Most doctors will tell you not to eat for at least 6 hours before the appointment. If your doctor believes you may have a condition that leads to slow gastric emptying, then you may be asked to fast for 12 hours.
You will also be told to stop taking any antacids before your exam, as these medications can lead to blurry images generated during the endoscopy. Also arrange for someone to drive you to and from the hospital.
What to Expect During Your Upper Endoscopy
When you arrive at the gastroenterologist's office, they will take your vital signs, get you settled into a bed, and give you a sedative via an IV. You will be awake but heavily sedated during the procedure. Your doctor may then spray a local anesthetic down your throat in order to numb the region.
Once your throat is numb, the endoscope will be inserted. This will be a little uncomfortable, but it should not hurt. You will not be able to talk, but you will be able to breathe on your own. The imaging will generally take about 20 minutes, and then the tube will be removed.
What to Expect After Your Upper Endoscopy
As the sedative wears off, you may notice you feel a little bloated, and your throat may be a bit sore. This is normal and expected. Sucking on some hard candy or lozenges can help. You will generally be sent home (with your driver) about 30 to 60 minutes after the test. Your doctor will make an appointment to review your results later on.
Undergoing an upper endoscopy isn't anyone's idea of a good time, but thanks to sedatives and anesthetic sprays, it's not that bad. It is the best way to figure out what's wrong with your digestive tract so that you can receive the proper treatment.