During upper gastrointestinal endoscopy a flexible endoscope is used to examine the esophagus, stomach and the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). The endoscope has a video chip at the tip that allows the physician to see the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract on a monitor. Biopsies may be taken to exclude infection, inflammation, cancer and pre-cancerous changes. Sometimes growths are removed or obliterated during the procedure. Narrowed areas (strictures) can be dilated and bleeding controlled.

Sedation is administered through an intravenous line to maintain comfort. Preparation for upper G.I. endoscopy requires an overnight fast. Laxatives are not required.

Upper G.I. endoscopy is the best test to examine the esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum. It is more accurate than x-rays and avoids exposure to radiation. Upper abdominal pain, acid reflux symptoms, swallowing difficulty, bleeding and iron deficiency anemia are the most common indications for upper G.I. endoscopy.

Complications from upper G.I. endoscopy are extremely uncommon, especially for procedures that do not involve the dilation of strictures, but include reactions to sedation, bleeding and perforation.

Upper G.I. endoscopies are performed at the Endoscopy Center of Marin and at Marin General Hospital.