If you are dealing with gastrointestinal distress or an issue with your throat, a gastroenterologist can help you figure out what’s going on in your body. They’ll do this by asking you about your symptoms and performing a physical exam to look for any identifying markers. However, oftentimes the most helpful diagnostic exam involves some sort of imaging test. One of the most common imaging exams performed by a GI specialist is what’s known as an upper endoscopy. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the upper endoscopy procedure and what it can help diagnose.
Why An Upper Endoscopy Would Be Ordered
Before we go into the details of the procedure, let’s take a look at why a gastrointestinal surgeon may order one in the first place. An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose and treat problems in your upper gastrointestinal tract. The upper GI tract includes your esophagus, your stomach, and a portion of your small intestine called the duodenum.
The procedure is conducted to help the specialist view these structures, and specialized tools can even be attached to the endoscope to help with tissue collection so that it can be tested. With that in mind, some conditions or issues that can be diagnosed with the help of an upper endoscopy include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease/Acid reflux
- Dysphagia (Inhibited swallowing)
- Esophageal varices (enlarged blood vessels)
- Esophageal narrowing
- Stomach ulcers
- Cancerous lesions
- Conditions like celiac disease and Crohn’s
As you can see, an upper endoscope can be extremely helpful in diagnosing a wide range of conditions, which is why it is readily used in cases of upper GI tract issues.
How Is An Upper Endoscopy Performed?
To perform an upper endoscopy procedure, the patient is given a sedative to help them relax, and numbing spray may be administered to the throat to allow for easier passage of the endoscope. You will be lying on your side for the procedure, and once you are relaxed, the gastrointestinal specialist will carefully guide a small tube down your throat and into the appropriate location based on where they want to examine. You may experience some minor pressure or discomfort as the tube is passed through your upper GI tract, but that’s really the only sensation to expect.
The tube that is being passed through your upper GI tract has a small camera attached to it, and it relays a live feed to a monitor in the operating room. This allows the surgeon to see what’s going on in your body in real time. They’ll be able to visualize certain sites to make a diagnosis, or as we mentioned above, they may position the endoscope so that a small tissue sample can be collected for testing. The procedure typically only takes about 15-30 minutes to complete, and you’ll then be taken to a recovery room to allow the sedatives to wear off.
After the procedure, the doctor will walk you through their findings or discuss the next steps if sample testing needs to take place. At some point in the near future, they’ll provide you with a clear diagnosis and share with you their recommended course of treatment. For many individuals, an upper endoscopy gives them a clear diagnosis and leads to a treatment plan that helps get their condition under control.
So if you are dealing with upper GI tract discomfort, or you believe you may be dealing with an issue in your throat or stomach, sync up with a gastroenterologist and let them take a look. A simple upper endoscopy procedure can provide you with clear answers and a comprehensive treatment plan. For more information, or to talk to a specialist in your area, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and his team today.