An upper endoscopy is performed to diagnose and treat various conditions of the upper digestive tract. This procedure is performed in an endoscopy center or hospital.

After sedation is administered, a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope (EN-doh-skope) is passed into the esophagus (food tube) and advanced into the stomach and first part of the small intestine. 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 inflates the stomach with air; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach. The physician can see abnormalities through the endoscope that may not be seen on X-Rays, such as inflammation, ulcers or bleeding. The physician can also insert instruments into the endoscope to remove samples of tissue (biopsies) for further tests, treat bleeding abnormalities, and remove some types of lesions.

Patients should not eat any solid food after midnight prior the exam, and may have clear liquids (such as tea, apple juice, or ginger ale) until 4 hours prior the exam. Possible complications of upper endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining, esophagus, or intestine. However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the procedure. The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility until the medication wears off.

As sedation is administered, patients must have someone drive them home.