An endoscopy, often referred to as an upper GI endoscopy or upper endoscopy, is a minimally invasive procedure used to evaluate the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. The upper part of the gastrointestinal tract includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine. During an endoscopy, a long, thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is passed through the patient’s digestive system. The endoscope has a small light and camera on the end, which projects images onto a monitor for the physician to view. During the procedure, instruments can be passed through the endoscope to pull tissue samples or perform other necessary procedures. Endoscopies are fast, outpatient procedures that generally only take about a half-hour to forty-five minutes.
Patients will be sedated intravenously before their endoscopy and will relax and doze during the procedure. It is normal for patients to be able to follow commands and breathe on their own but still have no recollection of the time during the procedure.
As mentioned, endoscopies are performed as an outpatient procedure, and patients can go home shortly afterward, as long as there are no complications. Immediately following the procedure, patients will spend time in the recovery area until the sedation wears off. Because sedatives were administered, someone will have to drive the patient home and stay with them until they are awake and alert. Additionally, the throat may feel scratchy or uncomfortable, but this sensation should be gone after a day or so.
One type of endoscopy is a video capsule endoscopy. During this procedure, the patient must swallow a pill capsule containing a tiny camera. The camera will then send data to a sensor that the patient wears on a belt. The capsule and in turn, the camera, are then excreted through the bowels in about 24 hours.