Upper GI Endoscopy in Philadelphia, PA
An upper endoscopy is a procedure commonly used by our gastroenterologists to examine the inner lining of the first portion of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum). This procedure is performed using an endoscope, which is a small camera attached to the end of a thin, flexible tube.
Why You Might Need an Upper GI Endoscopy
The upper GI tract can become irritated by a number of conditions. If a patient experiences recurring symptoms, an upper GI endoscopy is often utilized to properly diagnose the cause and determine an appropriate method of treatment. Such symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
While some side effects can result from simple inflammation of the upper gastrointestinal tract, more severe symptoms like bleeding should be evaluated as quickly as possible since they often point to more serious health concerns. A gastroenterologist will typically take a small biopsy from within the upper GI tract to analyze for the presence of cancerous cells or other abnormalities.
Diseases Often Identified By an Upper GI Endoscopy
While a patient’s reported symptoms can give great insight into what may be bothering their upper GI tract, it is only by viewing and testing samples of these tissues that allow our gastroenterologists to make an official diagnosis. The upper GI endoscopy achieves exactly this, as its tiny camera is able to capture clear images from within the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum that can confirm a case of:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Barrett’s esophagus
- Celiac disease
- Narrowing of the esophagus
- Swelling in the upper GI tract
- Blockage of the upper GI tract
Upper GI Endoscopy as a Treatment
During this procedure, it is possible for the gastroenterologist to not only diagnose conditions of the upper GI tract, but also treat them. This can include the removal of a blockage or polyp, repair of an ulcer, or placement of a feeding tube. In recent years, upper GI endoscopy has also been used by many physicians to perform specialized weight loss procedures.
Preparing for an Upper GI Endoscopy
The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients can complete their upper GI endoscopy within a doctor’s office instead of having to go to the hospital as they would with surgery. A sedative will be given to ensure that patients remain comfortable during their procedure, and so it is advised that a friend or family member be there when the endoscopy is finished to take the patient home safely.
Other considerations prior to an upper GI endoscopy include informing your gastroenterologist of all current medications and supplements that you are taking, and refraining from eating or drinking at least 6 hours before your procedure. Specific instructions regarding any prohibited food or drinks will be given by the staff at Philadelphia Gastroenterology Consultants.
What to Expect Afterward
Patients are advised to reduce activity levels and get plenty of rest after an upper GI endoscopy. Mild side effects such as bloating, cramping, a sore throat, and gas will often appear soon after the procedure, though each should dissipate on their own in a few hours. More serious, though very rare complications that may arise after this procedure can include bleeding, infection, tearing of the upper GI tract, and adverse reactions to any sedatives used. Be sure to contact our office in Philadelphia right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Bloody stool
Most patients are able to return to normal activities the following day, and can expect any biopsy results from their gastroenterologist after 1-2 weeks.