How does my gastroenterologist look at my gastrointestinal tract?
Your gastroenterologist can see the lining of the esophagus, stomach and the upper part of your small intestine simply by inserting a thin, flexible scope into your mouth and gently threading it through your upper GI tract. One end of the scope contains a light and a miniature camera that sends images to a digital screen. As your doctor passes the scope through your esophagus, stomach and small intestine, he sees real-time images on his screen.
Why are upper endoscopies recommended?
Upper endoscopies are used as a diagnostic tool and are helpful in determining the cause of chronic or persistent heartburn, pain, nausea, vomiting, bleeding, anemia, difficulty swallowing and unexplained weight loss. An upper endoscopy can help your doctor diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases, including ulcers, celiac disease, gastritis, cancer and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
During the procedure, your doctor may use tiny instruments to obtain a sample of the lining of one or more sections of your GI tract. These biopsies will help him determine the cause of your symptoms. Instruments can also be used to remove objects that are lodged in your GI tract, cauterize bleeding ulcers or dilate narrowed areas.
Is an upper endoscopy painful?
You'll receive anesthesia or a sedative before your upper endoscopy to ensure that you remain comfortable during the procedure. Your throat may be slightly sore after your endoscopy, but the soreness won't last long. Although you'll feel perfectly fine after the endoscopy, you'll be asked to remain at the facility for an hour or two afterward to ensure that you've recovered from the effects of the anesthesia or sedative. Since the anesthesia can affect you for up to 24 hours after you receive it, you'll need to arrange a ride home from the endoscopy facility.