What to Expect During a GI Endoscopy Procedure?

GI endoscopy tools in the hand of the doctor

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a complex system. Stomachaches, heartburn, and other painful symptoms that don’t resolve on their own should be checked by a trained gastroenterologist. One effective tool for diagnosing and treating specific problems of the upper GI tract is called GI endoscopy.

What Is GI Endoscopy?

During a GI endoscopy, a surgeon or gastroenterologist inserts an endoscope to examine the lining of the upper GI tract. The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached to the end that relays pictures of the GI tract onto a monitor.

What Is the Purpose of GI Endoscopy?

Gastroenterologists rely on GI endoscopy to diagnose and treat many problems that occur in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and upper intestine. An endoscopy can find the source of symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood loss
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unwanted weight loss

Upper GI endoscopy can also aid in the diagnosis of the following diseases and conditions:

  • Ulcers
  • Barret’s Esophagus
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Strictures or narrowing of esophagus
  • Inflammation
  • Blockages
  • Ingestion of dangerous chemicals

During the procedure, the gastroenterologist will take a tissue sample, or biopsy, of affected areas of the GI tract to confirm a diagnosis of the following diseases:

  • Gastritis
  • Celiac’s disease
  • Cancer

By attaching specialized surgical tools to the endoscope, a gastroenterologist can perform the following treatments during the upper GI procedure:

  • Stop bleeding from ulcers and other disorders
  • Enlarge strictures
  • Remove food or foreign objects lodged in the GI tractRemove polyps or suspicious growths
  • Insert feeding or drainage tubes

How Should I Prepare for an Upper GI Endoscopy?

It’s important to tell your doctor about your complete medical history, your current symptoms, and all medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) that you’re currently taking. Certain medications can thin the blood, which can cause complications during the procedure. These include:

  • Aspirin
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Arthritis medications
  • NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen

Preparing for the test is fairly easy. You’ll be informed of which medicines to stop taking prior to the endoscopy, and you’ll need to have someone drive you home due to lingering effects of sedation. Typically, you doctor will ask you to refrain from eating or drinking eight hours prior to the test.

What Happens During My Upper GI Endoscopy?

An upper GI is usually administered in a hospital or outpatient facility. Once you arrive, a nurse will administer a sedative through an IV. You may also use a spray or liquid medication to numb the throat to prevent gagging during the exam. Your vital signs will be constantly monitored to ensure you are tolerating the sedation well.

Next, as you lie on your side in the examination room, the gastroenterologist will delicately insert the endoscope through your esophagus into the stomach and duodenum. The endoscope pushes air into your stomach and duodenum to make it easier to view on the monitor.

During the procedure, your gastroenterologist may do one or more of the following:

  • Acquire tissue, cell, or fluid samples
  • Stop blood loss
  • Remove polyps
  • Open strictures

After the exam, you will:

  • Stay in a recovery room for one to two hours to allow the sedation to wear off
  • Go home after the procedure and rest for the remainder of the day
  • Expect to have a minor sore throat for one or two days
  • Resume a normal diet when you can swallow normally

If you’re experiencing stomach pain or chronic heartburn, make an appointment today with the highly experienced gastroenterologists at Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston. Our team is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment upper GI tract disorders and all digestive problems.

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