The Upper GI TractThe upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract starts from the mouth that leads into the food tube or esophagus. The esophagus brings the food to the stomach that breaks the food into smaller pieces, mixes them with a potent acid and pushes them into the upper part of the small intestine called the duodenum. In the duodenum, the juices from the liver and the pancreas combine with the food to help in digestion.The EndoscopeThe Endoscope is a flexible, fiber-optic, small diameter tube with a small computer chip installed in it that acts as a camera. The upper GI endoscope is introduced through the patients mouth into the esophagus and thence on to the stomach and duodenum. The images captured by the computer chip can be seen on a video monitor.The endoscope has an open channel through which the gastroenterologist can introduce equipment to take samples and perform treatment procedures.Uses and Advantages of EndoscopyEndoscopy is used to diagnose and treat upper GI tract disorders. Some of the patient complaints that can lead to endoscopy include:
Difficulty in swallowing
Nausea and vomiting
Abdominal pain and discomfort
Bleeding from the GI tract
The gastroenterologist may use endoscopy to diagnose and treat
Esophagitis and hart burn
Gastritis or erosion of stomach wall
Bleeding from stomach or intestinal wall
PreparationThe patient is not allowed to take any drink or food by mouth for at least 8 hours prior to the procedure. Certain medications may be allowed by the physician and the patient should follow the doctor's instructions.The ProcedureEndoscopy is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. It may be 15-30 minutes in duration .The patient's throat is anaesthetized by a spray or liquid. Intravenous medication may be given to relax the patient. The endoscope is gently introduced through the mouth into the upper GI tract. The patient is able to comfortable breath through the mouth during the entire process. The gastroenterologist views the inside walls of the GI tract and is able to take any tissue samples or remove any suspicious growths. In some cases, the treatment for certain problems like bleeding ulcers, can be given during the procedure.After The ProcedureThe gastroenterologist may be able to give some results to the patient and the family soon after the procedure. In many cases, the detailed report that includes the details of tissue biopsy results is given on a follow-up day.Side Effects and RisksSome of the side effects and risks of Endoscopy include
Mild, temporary throat irritation
Sedation from intravenous medication may linger after the procedure. Patients should have someone available to drive them home.
Bleeding or tear during the procedure are extremely rare occurrences that may require hospitalization and/or surgery.