An upper endoscopy (en-da-skuh-pee) is a test that uses a long skinny flexible tube with a miniature TV camera, to look at the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine. The instrument that is used for this exam called an endoscope. The scope is about the size of an aspirin tablet.
What preparations are required?
You will be given written instructions for the endoscopy (endoscopy prep planner) that will include diet and other information. Please review this prep planner in advance, follow the instructions closely and call if you have any questions. You must not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to this exam. You must arrange someone to drive you home after your procedure otherwise the procedure will be cancelled. For more information view the endoscopy preparation packet.
Can I take my current medications?
Please contact your regular doctor if you are on a blood thinner such as Coumadin, Warfarin, or Plavix. Contact your doctor if you are a diabetic and need to give yourself insulin; do not take any diabetic pills on the day of your procedure. You may take all your other regular medications with a small amount of water. Please bring a detailed list of your regular medications with you on the day of your exam.
What happens during an endoscopy?
You will have a chance to meet with the doctor in the procedure room. He/she will discuss your concerns and explain the risks and benefits of the procedure. The doctor will then start putting some sedation medication in you IV. This medication is given to relax you and allow you to rest during the exam. Most people get sleepy, drowsy, relaxed and forgetful, but you will not become unconscious. You may have a brief sensation of pressure in the back of your throat. If you are uncomfortable during the procedure, you can be given more medication if it is safe to do so. The nurse will constantly monitor you and give you medication as you need it. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes.
What happens after an endoscopy?
You will spend at least 30 minutes in our recovery room and be allowed to rest. The nurses will monitor you while you are in recovery. You may be offered something to drink when you are awake. When you are awake enough to go home, you will be able to get dressed and leave. Even though you feel awake and alert after you leave the clinic, your judgment and reflexes will be impaired for the rest of the day. That is why you must have someone to drive or take you home and it is recommended that someone stay with you for the next several hours. You should be able to eat your normal diet when you return home. You will be able to return to normal activities the next day, unless your doctor gives you other instructions.
What if the endoscopy shows something?
If your doctor sees any area that needs further evaluation, he/she will pass an instrument through the endoscope to take a biopsy (a small sample of the lining). This tissue will be sent to the lab to be analyzed. Taking a small biopsy will not cause you pain or discomfort. You will be notified of the lab results in about 10 days.
Will I talk with the physician after the procedure?
Not necessarily. Your physician will write his/her findings and special instructions on the post-procedure instruction sheet, and a nurse will go over all the findings and instructions with you. You will be provided with the phone numbers to call should you have additional questions.
What are the possible complications of endoscopy?
Endoscopy is generally safe procedure. Research studies have shown that the complication rate is approximately 1 in 5,000. One possible complication is a perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding might occur at the site of biopsy but it's usually minor. Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the endoscope; it rarely requires follow-up treatment. Some patients might have a reaction to sedative or complication from heart or lung disease.
What if I have other questions or concerns?
Our staff and nurses are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can be reached at (206) 223-2319.
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