• Overview

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An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is a procedure to look at the inside of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum using a flexible telescope.

What happens during upper GI endoscopy?

An upper GI endoscopy usually takes about 30 minutes. We may offer you a sedative to help you relax, or spray local anaesthetic on the back of your throat meaning this area will be numb throughout the procedure.

A small mouth guard will be placed between your teeth to protect them.

Your consultant will place a flexible tube called an endoscope into the back of your throat and down into your stomach. You may be asked to swallow to help guide the tube. From here the endoscope will pass on into your duodenum. They will be able to look for problems in these organs such as inflammation or ulcers. The endoscope will not interfere with your breathing but initially you may experience a retching sensation. If you have a lot of saliva, suction similar to that used at the dentist may be used.

Your consultant will also be able to perform biopsies and take photographs to help make the diagnosis. When the examination is complete your consultant will gently remove the endoscope.

After your upper GI endoscopy

If you were given a sedative, you will normally recover in about an hour. You may feel a bit bloated for a few hours but this will pass. When the local anaesthetic in the back of your throat wears off you can drink and eat normally.

Your consultant, will tell you what was found during the endoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. 
You may develop a sore throat or dry mouth and slight hoarseness, following the procedure. Throat lozenges and saltwater gargles can ease these symptoms.

You should be able to go back to work the day after the endoscopy.

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following upper GI endoscopy.

Specific complications of upper GI endoscopy:

  • Sore throat
  • Allergic reaction
  • Breathing difficulties or heart irregularities
  • Making a hole in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum
  • Damage to teeth or bridgework
  • Bleeding
  • Incomplete procedure

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