For the procedure you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope (EN-doh-skope). Right before the procedure the physician will spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging. You will receive IV Sedation to help you relax during the exam. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach which expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
The physician can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, through the endoscope that do not necessarily show up well on X-rays. The physician can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests.
The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for a period of recovery until the medication wears off.
Possible complications of upper endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining. However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the procedure.
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night prior to your test. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions.