Upper GI Endoscopy

An upper GI endoscopy lets your healthcare provider look right into the beginning of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum) make up the upper GI tract. 

Outline of woman showing mouth, esophagus, and stomach with endoscope inserted through mouth into stomach.
During endoscopy, a long, flexible tube is used to view the inside of your upper GI tract.

Before the test

Follow these and any other instructions you're given before your endoscopy. If you don’t follow the healthcare provider’s instructions carefully, the test may need to be canceled or done over:

  • Follow any directions you're given for not eating or drinking before your test. In some cases, you may be able to take medicines with sips of water until 2 hours before the test. Talk with your provider about this. 

  • Bring your X-rays and any other test results you have.

  • Because you will be sedated, arrange for an adult to drive you home after the exam.

  • Tell your provider before the exam if you're taking any medicines. This includes any over-the-counter and prescription medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. Some medicines may be adjusted or stopped before the test. Don't stop any medicine unless directed by your provider.

  • Tell your provider if you have any health problems.

The procedure

Here is what to expect:

  • You will lie on the endoscopy table. People often lie on their left side.

  • You will be placed on a heart monitor and given oxygen.

  • Your throat may be numbed with a spray or gargle. You're given medicine through an IV (intravenous) line placed in your hand or arm. These medicines will help you relax and stay comfortable. You may be awake and drowsy or asleep during the test.

  • The healthcare provider will put a thin tube (endoscope) in your mouth and down your esophagus. This tube is thinner than most pieces of food that you swallow. It won't affect your breathing. The medicine helps keep you from gagging.

  • Air is put into your GI tract to expand it. It can make you burp.

  • During the procedure, the healthcare provider can take tissue samples (biopsies) and remove abnormalities such as small bumps or growths (polyps). The provider can also treat abnormalities using tools placed through the endoscope. You won't feel this. 

  • The endoscope carries images of your upper GI tract to a video screen. If you're awake, you may be able to look at the images.

  • After the procedure is done, you'll rest and be monitored for a time. An adult must drive you home.

  • After the procedure, you may feel gassy for a few hours. You may have a sore throat. This should improve in 1 or 2 days.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stool

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Pain in your belly that doesn't go away

  • Upset stomach and vomiting, or vomiting blood

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2021
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