Upper Endoscopy is a procedure, not surgery, that examines your digestive track using a thin, flexible tube inserted into your body, giving your doctor a view of your internal organs or tissue through a tiny camera at the tip of the instrument.

Endoscopy has become an essential tool to identify digestive diseases, with close to 51 million procedures performed nationwide each year. It’s fast, with minimal risk depending on your condition and mostly minor side effects like temporary bloating or mild cramping.

During an endoscopy, your doctor can also use a tiny forceps and scissors that are part of the endoscope to remove tissue for a biopsy, such as a polyp during a colonoscopy. Most patients have one of two types of endoscopies.

Upper Endoscopy

The flexible tube is placed in the mouth, down the throat and into the esophagus. The instrument, called an endoscope, allows your doctor to view the esophagus, stomach and the upper part of the small intestine.

What to Know


Your doctor views the lining of your large intestine (the entire colon and rectum), about 6 feet long, after the tube is inserted through the rectum.

What to Know

Upper gastrointestinal, or Upper GI

You Might Need an Upper Endoscopy if You Have These Symptoms

After a physical examination and a review of your medical history, your doctor might recommend an endoscopy to further investigate:

  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Excessive burping
  • Indigestion
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Low red blood-cell count
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain

Some of the conditions an upper GI endoscopy can identify:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers
  • Narrowing of the esophagus
  • Swelling, inflammation
  • Blockages
  • Precancerous conditions (Barrett’s esophagus)
  • Celiac disease

Learn More About Upper Endoscopy

What’s the difference between a colonoscopy and a sigmoidoscopy?

A sigmoidoscopy looks at only the lower part of the colon – the rectum and sigmoid colon, a part of the large intestine that forms a loop that’s close to 16 inches long.

More about sigmoidoscopy


Here are some of the symptoms a colonoscopy evaluates:

  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea and other changes in bowel activity
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

Some of the conditions a colonoscopy can identify:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Diverticulitis

Learn More About Colonoscopy

Note: A colonoscopy is also a screening tool for colon polyps and colon cancer for adults starting at age 50

Other Types of Endoscopy

Spiral enteroscopy

An endoscope that examines the small bowel, with a user-controlled push/rotate feature that creates a corkscrew motion to push the instrument through the 20-foot-long small bowel.

Capsule endoscopy

A micro-camera housed in a capsule, once swallowed, relays images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine to your doctor as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Two tests in one, endoscopy and X-rays, locates and treats problems in your bile ducts, pancreas and gallbladder.

Did You Know About Endoscopy and the Sword Swallower?

The modern endoscope dates to the 1800s, when German doctor Philip Bozzini created a Lichtleiter, or “light conductor,” to view internal organs through a tube and assorted attachments. How did a doctor actually see inside the body? With a candle and angled mirrors.

The first use of the word endoscope, however, is credited to French doctor Antonin Jean Desomeaux and his 1853 invention, a Lichtleiter variant with improved lighting – a lamp that used a burning mixture of alcohol and turpentine.

Yet another doctor, Adolph Kussmaul of Germany, was the first to use that instrument, with modifications, to look inside the stomach. Most notable was his “safe” test subject – a sword swallower who had no trouble swallowing the tube that measured 18.5 inches long and almost a half-inch in diameter. (Fortunately, the tubes now are both flexible and much smaller in diameter.)

Make an Appointment

Call to schedule an appointment with a digestive health specialist at Hartford Hospital.
Ask your doctor for a referral before you call.

Call 833.2DIGEST

Digestive Health Center

  • Hartford Hospital
    85 Jefferson Street
    Hartford, CT 06102
    Get Directions >>

  • Chat with us online: