Too many people simply take a few antacid tablets and keep going on with life if they feel stomach discomfort. That can be a mistake since it can be caused by a number of factors. Bay Area Gastroenterology Associates in Trinity, FL, uses diagnostic tests including upper GI endoscopy to uncover the root cause of your symptoms and treat the condition. Keep reading to learn more about this test and what it can tell you.
How Long Does an Upper Endoscopy Take?
Endoscopies are done in our office on an outpatient basis, so you will not have to make a special trip to the hospital or plan for an overnight stay. However, the exact duration of your test will depend on why it is being performed and what your doctor encounters during it.
For example, if the test is being performed to diagnose a suspected condition, it may be quicker than if your symptoms are more diffuse. On the other hand, if a tumor is spotted, your doctor may need to perform a biopsy on it which can cause the test to last longer than anticipated.
Most patients can expect the actual endoscopy to last between 15 and 30 minutes. However, you should plan extra time for a sedative or anesthesia to be administered beforehand and for recovery after the endoscope is removed. In total, you may be at our offices for several hours on the day of your test.
What Is an Upper GI Endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy is a diagnostic test that allows a gastroenterologist to see inside your upper digestive system. It uses a tiny camera attached to a long, flexible tube — the endoscope.
Your doctor may perform an endoscopy to diagnose or, in some cases, treat conditions affecting the esophagus, stomach, and the upper portions of the small intestines called the duodenum. You may sometimes hear this test referred to as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.
How Is It Performed?
As mentioned earlier, an upper GI endoscopy is performed on an outpatient basis. You will most likely be awake during it, however, a sedative will be administered to help you relax. Endoscopy is a very common test, but each patient will have a unique experience. Therefore, you should use this as a guide to help you be aware of the most common experiences before, during, and after upper endoscopy.
What Preparations Are Needed Before Your Test?
Preparations may start as early as a week before your test, depending on your medical history and any health conditions you have. Early preparations often include stopping or changing medications such as blood thinners.
Fasting is usually required to obtain clear images of an empty stomach. You will need to limit yourself to clear liquids for six to eight hours before your test. For this reason, many people try to schedule their tests for early in the day.
What Happens During the Test?
Once you get to the office, you may need to change into a gown. Any jewelry that will interfere with the testing equipment will need to be removed. You will be given a sedative to ensure you stay comfortable and relaxed throughout the test.
Once you are ready, numbing medication is applied to your throat. This keeps you comfortable while the endoscope tube is inserted into your throat. A mouthguard is often used to keep you from biting on the tube as well as to protect your teeth.
The tube and camera are passed through the esophagus and stomach into the duodenum. Anything unusual spotted as the camera moves along is noted. Your doctor may decide to take tissue or fluid samples for further testing. Once the test is complete, the tube is removed.
What Is Recovery and Post-Treatment Care Like?
While most patients remain awake during an endoscopy, a sedative is commonly used to relax you and your muscles. It can take up to 24 hours for the medication to fully clear your system. As a result, you should wait until you are fully alert before trying to drive or make any important decisions. That means you will need to have someone with you on the day of your test, or, at the least, have a ride home arranged ahead of time.
The anesthetic used to numb your throat can inhibit your gag reflex. You should avoid eating and drinking until these return to normal to minimize the risk of choking. It is also a good idea to plan to take it easy for the rest of the day once you return home. Avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise until you feel fully recovered. Most patients are able to return to normal activities by the day after their endoscopy.
Keep in mind that these are general instructions. Your doctor may offer additional or more specific instructions for you based on your medical history and the results of your tests. You should always ask for guidance if you have questions or are unsure about anything in the instructions you are given.
Why Is an Upper Endoscopy Performed?
Endoscopy is a useful diagnostic tool that is used to identify a wide range of conditions, including inflammation, ulcers, and tumors. Since these often have overlapping symptoms, a diagnosis can be difficult to reach without the direct visual images produced through endoscopy. That is, an upper GI endoscopy allows your doctor to see the inside of your GI tract to get a clearer picture of what is going on.
An upper endoscopy can also be used to confirm the diagnosis of certain conditions affecting the upper GI tract. These include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Enlarged veins within the esophagus
- Narrowing or blockages of the esophagus or duodenum
- Ulcers, inflammation, and infections of the upper GI tract
- Tumors, both malignant and benign
- Celiac disease
- Damage from ingesting caustic substances
- Crohn’s disease within the upper GI tract
Additionally, upper endoscopy can be used to identify growths and tumors, and take biopsies as needed. It is also used in some patients to administer guided treatments to the esophagus, stomach, or upper intestines.
When Will Results Be Available?
In many cases, your doctor will be able to give you his impression during or immediately after your test. Images are generated in real-time during the test, so we can see immediately if there is bleeding, an ulcer, or a tumor. Keep in mind that you will not be able to speak during the test, so it might be best to plan time afterward or at your next appointment to ask questions.
Sometimes the results of an endoscopy lead to the need for additional tests. These can range from ultrasounds to tissue biopsies. If a biopsy or testing of a fluid sample is needed, you will have to wait for those results to come back from the lab. This can take up to two weeks or, in very rare cases, slightly longer.
Who Should Consider an Upper Endoscopy?
Ultimately, it is up to your digestive specialist to recommend and perform an upper Gi endoscopy. However, it is commonly performed in a diagnostic capacity when the following symptoms are present:
- Dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
- Unexplained and continuous vomiting
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Pain in the upper abdomen or chest pain that is not heart-related
- Upper GI tract bleeding
In some cases, your doctor may use an upper GI endoscopy to treat a previously diagnosed condition. It is very useful in:
- Removing polyps and tumors
- Controlling bleeding
- Banding enlarged or otherwise abnormal veins in the esophagus
- Dilating narrowed areas of the esophagus or intestines
- Performing laser treatments
- Eliminating blockages
Who Should Avoid Endoscopy?
While endoscopy is generally considered very safe, there are certain conditions that are contraindicative to having an endoscopy performed. It is very important that you tell our office if you are:
- Allergic to latex, any medications, or anesthetics — either general or local
- Pregnant, or suspect you may be pregnant
- Taking blood thinners, daily aspirin therapy, or other medications that affect clotting
- Have been diagnosed with heart valve disease
These conditions will not necessarily exclude you from having an endoscopy performed, but adjustments to the normal procedure and special precautions may be needed.
Get Relief From Your GI Symptoms Today
If you are experiencing upper GI symptoms or need to have an endoscopy performed, we can help. Contact Bay Area Gastroenterology Associates in Trinity, FL, today to schedule a consultation. Our courteous and professional providers can help you uncover the cause of your symptoms and find relief.