What is it? Endoscopy is a procedure that uses a flexible, narrow viewing tube, called a gastroscope, that has a lens and steering device on one end and a light and lens on the other. It allows your doctor to see the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum and to search for any damage. If the doctor suspects Barrett's esophagus or an infection, he or she may also take a tissue sample, called a biopsy.
What is it used for? It is used to look for further clues in people whose GERD symptoms don't respond to medication, in people older than age 50 who have new symptoms, or if the doctor suspects esophagitis. Upper GI endoscopy can also detect Barrett's esophagus and help rule out other conditions, such as peptic ulcer disease.
What can I expect? Endoscopy can occur in a doctor's office or in the hospital. You will be asked not to drink or eat anything for at least 6 hours prior to the test. The doctor may apply a solution that numbs your throat to reduce your impulse to gag. You may also receive an injection to relax you and make you more comfortable. This test takes between 30 and 60 minutes. The doctor carefully guides the viewing tube, or gastroscope, through your mouth and down your throat to your esophagus. You may feel pressure in your stomach as it moves about. A feeling of fullness is also quite common, resulting from air being blown through the tube. After the gastroscope is removed, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything until your gag reflex returns. You may also burp or experience a sore throat for about 3 to 4 days after the test.