What is an Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy?

An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to examine the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum). This is accomplished by orally inserting a long, flexible tube with a light at the tip. Special medications are given to “numb” the throat and make the patient relax (be sure to notify us of any allergies). If the doctor notices an abnormality, he or she can then pass an instrument through the endoscope and remove a small piece of tissue for examination (biopsy). You will remain in the office until the sedative has worn off.

The endoscope may be used as means of treatment as well. If a polyp is detected, your physician may be able to remove the growth through the instrument.

General Exam Preparation

  • Avoid taking aspirin, arthritis medications, or vitamins containing iron up to 10 days before the examination. Please check with us about continuing other medications.
  • If you are taking Coumadin, you must notify our office.
  • Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before the test. No other preparations are necessary.

Day of the Examination

The procedure is usually well tolerated. There may be some discomfort during the endoscopy, but it is generally mild.

You will receive sedative medications, so someone must accompany you home. Please refrain from driving for the rest of the day.

What to Expect After the Procedure

  • You may experience a mild sore throat. This should slowly improve.
  • You might be sleepy for an hour or two after the procedure due to the medications administered at the time of the examination.
  • You will expel gas, as some air is instilled into the stomach during the examination.
  • If a polyp is removed, you will receive further instructions.
  • You will be given information about resuming your diet after the procedure.
  • It is occasionally necessary to admit a patient after the procedure.

Are there any complications from upper gastrointestinal endoscopy?

Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is a safe procedure. When performed by a qualified physician, there are few risks associated with the test.

One possible complication is perforation, in which a tear through the wall of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum allows digestive fluids to escape. This complication can often permit the leakage of digestive fluids, but can be managed by aspirating the fluids until the opening seals. In rare instances, the perforation may require surgery.

Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy or polyp removal. It is usually minor and stops on its own. It can also be controlled by cauterization (application of electrical current). Rarely, blood transfusions are required.

Localized irritation of the vein may occur at the site of medication injection. A tender lump may develop. This lump could remain for several weeks to several months, but will dissipate over time. Other risks include drug reactions and complications from unrelated diseases, such as heart attack or stroke.

Practice Information

Mount Sinai Doctors Manhasset
1155 Northern Boulevard
Manhasset, NY 11030
Phone: 516-407-4000