What you can expect
Before the procedure
Before your upper endoscopy procedure, you'll be asked to lie down on a table on your back or on your side. Monitors may be attached to your body to allow your health care team to keep tabs on your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.
At this time, you may receive a sedative medication. This medication, given through a vein in your forearm, helps you relax during the endoscopy.
Your doctor may also spray an anesthetic in your mouth, which will numb your throat in preparation for insertion of the long, flexible tube (endoscope). You may be asked to wear a plastic mouth guard to hold your mouth open.
During the procedure
Your doctor will then insert the endoscope in your mouth. He or she may ask you to swallow as the scope passes down your throat. You may feel some pressure in your throat, but you generally shouldn't feel pain.
You can't talk after the endoscope passes down your throat, though you can make noises. The endoscope doesn't interfere with your breathing.
As your doctor passes the endoscope down your esophagus:
- A tiny camera at the tip transmits images to a video monitor in the exam room. Your doctor watches this monitor to look for abnormalities in your upper digestive tract. If abnormalities are found in your digestive tract, your doctor may record images for later examination.
- Gentle air pressure may be fed into your esophagus to inflate your digestive tract. This allows the endoscope to move freely. And it allows your doctor to more easily examine the folds of your digestive tract. You may feel pressure or fullness from the added air.
- Your doctor will pass special surgical tools through the endoscope to collect a tissue sample or remove a polyp. Your doctor watches the video monitor to guide the tools.
When your doctor has finished the exam, the endoscope is slowly retracted through your mouth. An endoscopy typically takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your situation.
After the procedure
You'll be taken to a recovery area to sit or lie quietly after your endoscopy. You may stay for an hour or so. This allows your health care team to monitor you as the sedative begins to wear off.
Once you're at home, you may experience some mildly uncomfortable signs and symptoms after endoscopy, such as:
- Bloating and gas
- Sore throat
These signs and symptoms will improve with time. If you're concerned or quite uncomfortable, call your doctor.
Take it easy for the rest of the day after your endoscopy. After receiving a sedative, you may feel alert, but your reaction times are affected and judgment is impaired.