The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Upper Endoscopy
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What happens when the test is performed?

  • You'll probably be given a sedative through an IV. This medicine may prevent you from remembering the test; it might even make you sleep through it.Wearing a hospital gown, you lie on your side against a backrest. A local anesthetic is sprayed into your throat to prevent you from gagging when the endoscope is inserted.

    The endoscope used in this test is about half an inch in diameter and long enough to reach from your mouth through your stomach and into the first part of your small intestine.When the doctor places the endoscope in your throat, he or she asks you to swallow. This helps guide the endoscope into your esophagus. You are likely to feel pressure against your throat while the tube is in place and you might experience a "full" feeling in your stomach. The doctor or doctor's assistant gently advances the tube into your stomach. As the camera at the end of the scope takes pictures that appear on a video screen, your doctor will watch for any suspicious lesions on the lining of your stomach or esophagus. If any appear, your doctor might use some small clippers on the end of the scope to remove a tiny piece of tissue for a biopsy.

    Though the exam itself takes only 10-15 minutes, you will probably be in the exam room for 40 minutes or more because of the time it takes to set up. Your throat will feel numb, but this will wear off about 30 minutes later. The sedative will make you sleepy for an hour or more.

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