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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Upper Endoscopy for Diagnosing Heartburn and Reflux

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What Can I Expect the Day of my Upper Endoscopy?

  • A doctor will explain the upper endoscopy in detail, including possible complications and side effects. The doctor will also answer any questions you may have.
  • An experienced doctor will perform the procedure.
  • You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and to remove your eyeglasses and dentures.
  • A local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) may be applied at the back of your throat.
  • You will be given a pain reliever and a sedative intravenously (in your vein). You will feel relaxed and drowsy.
  • A mouthpiece will be placed in your mouth. It does not interfere with your breathing.
  • You will lie on your left side during the procedure.
  • The doctor will insert the endoscope into your mouth, through your esophagus (the "food pipe" leading from your mouth into your stomach) and into your stomach. The endoscope does not interfere with your breathing.
  • Most procedures take 15 to 30 minutes.

What Happens After an Upper Endoscopy?

  • You will stay in a recovery room for about an hour for observation.
  • You may feel a temporary soreness in your throat. Lozenges may help. Some people may feel nauseated or bloated.
  • The doctor who performed the endoscopy may discuss initial findings with you after the procedure but will send the test results to your primary or referring doctor.
  • The specialist or your primary doctor will discuss any biopsy results with you once they become available several days after the procedure. If the results indicate that prompt medical attention is needed, the necessary arrangements will be made and your referring doctor will be notified.

Risks of an upper endoscopy include bleeding, perforation of the upper digestive system, and abnormal reaction to the drugs used for sedation.

Warning About Upper Endoscopy

If you have severe or worsening abdominal or throat pain , or have any chest pain, continuous cough, fever, chills, or vomiting after an upper endoscopy, get emergency medical help right away..

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 25, 2015
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