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What happens during an upper endoscopy?

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Quick Answer

During an upper endoscopy, a thin, lighted camera is passed down the esophagus and into the stomach and small intestine to examine the upper gastrointestinal tract, explains eMedicineHealth. Prior to the procedure, the throat is usually numbed to reduce gagging. Pain medication and a sedative may be administered intravenously for comfort.

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Full Answer

An endoscopy is usually done to identify conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as cancer or ulcers, notes Mayo Clinic. It can help investigate symptoms such as bleeding, abdominal pain and persistent nausea and vomiting. An endoscopy can also allow a doctor to remove polyps, open up a narrowed esophagus or remove a foreign body.

A patient usually fasts for eight hours before the procedure in order to give the doctor the clearest view of the digestive tract, notes WebMD. Some patients, especially those with endocarditis, an artificial heart valve or rheumatic heart disease, may need antibiotics prior to an endoscopy. Most routine medications may be taken with a small amount of water prior to the exam, and diabetics may need to adjust insulin doses.

After an endoscopy, the patient is observed in a recovery area for a couple of hours, according to eMedicineHealth. Pain medication and sedatives can cause drowsiness and dizziness, so the patient needs to have someone drive her home and stay with her the rest of the day. Complications are rare, but they may include an irregular heartbeat, bleeding or a perforation along the gastrointestinal tract.

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