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Upper Endoscopy and Lower Endoscopy

Endoscopies are diagnostic tests that examine the digestive system. The difference between an upper endoscopy and a lower endoscopy (colonoscopy) is the part of the digestive tract that is examined. In an upper endoscopy the upper digestive system – which consists of the duodenum, esophagus, and stomach – is examined. In this procedure a thin tube that has a light and camera attached for viewing and recording is inserted through the mouth and down into the esophagus. A lower endoscopy, or colonoscopy, is used to examine the large and small bowel. As the procedure is performed, doctors will view images on the display screen to guide them and take note of any issues throughout the digestive tract.endoscopy

Why Have an Upper Endoscopy Performed?

An upper endoscopy can help identify causes of symptoms throughout the upper digestive tract. Common symptoms that may result in a need for an endoscopy include anything from abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting to heartburn, bleeding and swallowing disorders. Issues that can be identified through the use of an upper endoscopy include:

  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Obstructions
  • Cancer
  • Narrowed Areas

Preparation for an Endoscopy

Before scheduling an endoscopy your medical professional will go over the necessary preparation, but you can expect that they will require some of the following:

  • The procedure will require an empty stomach. In order to empty the stomach you may be given a specific laxative and expected to fast for eight hours prior to the endoscopy. The fasting will include both food and water.
  • If you are taking specific medications such as blood thinners or medicine for high blood pressure your doctor may ask you to skip a dose or adjust your medication.
  • Pre-arrange transportation as the sedative, local anesthetic, or pain reliever the doctor provides you will likely cause drowsiness and impaired judgement.
  • Make sure that you discuss all medications you are prescribed or taking with your physician and that they are aware of any and all conditions you may suffer from before undergoing the procedure.

Before, During, and After an Endoscopy

Patients are typically provided with a local anesthetic for the back of the throat prior to the procedure. The patient can expect to be sedated through an IV drip and to have a mouthpiece inserted in order to keep the mouth open during sedation. The endoscope will then be inserted into the stomach through the mouth during the procedure, which will last roughly 15-30 minutes.

After the procedure, the patient will be kept under observation for about 30 minutes while the medication wears off. The patient may experience soreness in the throat, although this is typically temporary and relieved quickly. It is typical for the physician to require the patient have transportation due to the use of sedatives, which making driving hazardous. The results of the test will be sent from the doctor who performed the procedure to your primary or referring physician.

Complications After an Endoscopy

While complications of an endoscopy are uncommon, if at any point within 72 hours of the procedure you begin to experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain, chills, pain in the chest, or nausea go to your local emergency room or call your doctor immediately.