Upper Endoscopy

What is it?

An upper endoscopy is an exam in which a flexible tube with a fiber optic light and camera (endoscope) is passed down the esophagus into the stomach and the duodenum (the upper section of the small intestines).

This procedure is done to assess symptoms of acid reflux (GERD), gastric ulcers, inflammation of the esophagus (heartburn), difficulty swallowing, and other symptoms. Unlike colonoscopies, upper endoscopies are not done for screening purposes.

Your physician will determine if you need this procedure based on a physical exam and evaluation of your symptoms, such as pain, heartburn, anemia, and weight loss.

Before the Procedure

Usually no prep is required. You should drink only clear liquids after midnight the night before the exam and have nothing by mouth 4 hours prior to the procedure.

You should always check with your physician about taking any medication the day of your exam. This includes over the counter medications and herbal supplements. You may be advised to stop taking any blood thinners (such as aspirin, vitamin E, ibuprofen or Coumadin) two weeks prior to the exam, or modify the dose (insulin, oral hypoglycemic, blood pressure and cardiac medications) the day of the exam. Please bring a list of ALL medications you take with you.

Be sure to inform your physician if you require antibiotics before dental or similar procedures. This may also be required before a colonoscopy.

During the Procedure

You will be placed on your left side, and after sedation is achieved, the physician will pass the scope through your mouth along your esophagus into your stomach while watching a TV monitor. Air and water is used to slightly inflate the stomach and wash away any residual flecks so that the lining of the stomach and small intestines can be seen clearly.

If an abnormality such as an ulcer or inflammation is seen, a sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken during this procedure. The tissue sample will be sent to the pathology lab for evaluation. Results are usually available within a week. The actual procedure usually takes 10-15 minutes.

After the Procedure

Discharge instructions will be reviewed with you prior to the start of the exam and will be given to you on discharge from the unit. The results of your exam and any other instructions will be written upon completion of your procedure. You may be discharged with a person who will drive you home and assure your well being after arriving home. Please arrange to have someone stay with you or be accessible if a problem arises after discharge. This is especially important for elderly patients and those with significant medical histories, such as diabetes and cardiac conditions.

If you have been sedated, you will be instructed not to drive or drink alcohol for the rest of the day. Patients are advised not to do any activities that require mental acuity or physical activity, such as sports, legal decisions, or using power tools. You should rest at home with light activity for the remainder of the day. In most cases, patients may resume their usual diet immediately. If your doctor advises differently, this will be noted on the instructions.

Some patients experience a mild sore throat after the procedure and this usually resolves in a day or so. If persistent discomfort persists, you should contact your doctor.

You may resume your usual medications unless indicated on the discharge instructions. If biopsies were done, your doctor may advise holding blood thinners, such as aspirin, Ibuprofen and Coumadin for several days to prevent bleeding.

Gastroenterology Division

  • Gastroenterology Division
    Hartford Hospital
    85 Jefferson Street
    Hartford, CT 06102
    Get Directions >>
    Fax: 860.545.2785

  • To connect with one of our expert Gastroenterology specialists, call