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Center for Women's Gastrointestinal Health
100 Dudley Street
3rd Floor
Providence, RI 02905
P: ( 401) 453-7953
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We have a policy for missed appointments at all Women & Infants' physician practices. If you need to reschedule or cancel an appointment, please give us at least 24 hours notice. Learn More

What is an upper endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see inside your esophagus (food tube), stomach, and duodenum (first part of your small intestine).

When to arrive, what to do before, and more about your endoscopy procedure.

Patient information

Why do I need an endoscopy?

Digestive disorders are very common, especially in women. An upper endoscopy can be a useful tool in diagnosing and treating these problems. The examination may be used to investigate symptoms such as:

  • Recurring indigestion.
  • Heartburn.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Unexplained chest pain.
  • Repeated vomiting.
  • Difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness.

What preparation is required?

An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination. Please do not eat or drink, including water, after 12 midnight the night before the procedure if you are scheduled for a morning appointment. If you have an afternoon appointment, you may have liquids only for up to four hours before your scheduled procedure time.

How is the upper endoscopy performed?

Endoscopy Diagram The doctor will insert an endoscope (a thin, flexible, lighted tube) over the tongue, down through the esophagus and into the stomach. The endoscope is the thickness of your little finger. You will be given moderate sedation through an intravenous line to make you relaxed, drowsy and comfortable during the procedure. It won’t put you to sleep. During the test, air is passed through the endoscope and into the stomach. This is to make the stomach bigger and to give the doctor a clearer view. It does not hurt, but it may be a bit uncomfortable. If the doctor needs to take some tissue samples (biopsies), this can be done painlessly through the endoscope. The procedure itself takes 15 to 30 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery. It is important that you have a responsible adult with you to drive you home.

What happens during the endoscopy?

In the procedure room, you will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees slightly bent. A nurse will be with you throughout the entire procedure. The physician will give you the medication through the intravenous line. You will be given oxygen through a nasal cannula, and a device will be placed on your finger to monitor your oxygen levels. Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart. A plastic guard is placed in your mouth to protect your teeth and the endoscope. If you are finding the procedure more uncomfortable than you would like, please let the nurse know, and you will be given additional sedative or analgesia. When the procedure is finished, the scope is removed quickly and easily.

What happens after an endoscopy?

After the endoscopy is completed, you will be monitored in the recovery room. When you are alert and awake, you will be given a drink before getting dressed. You can then go home. This may be up to an hour following the procedure, you may have some feelings of bloating or fullness after your endoscopy. This is because of the air put into your belly during the procedure. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas or burp.

Getting ready for the procedure:

  • Please be sure that you have planned for a responsible adult to accompany you. They must be available to come into the endoscopy suite to sign you out of the unit following your procedure. You must have someone drive you or be available to drive you home the day of the procedure. You may take a taxi or bus, if you are accompanied by a responsible adult. You will not be able to drive the day of your procedure.
  • Please check with your insurance company before the procedure is done to confirm your coverage.
  • Bring a detailed list of your medications including over the counter medications and supplements. List the dose (ex: 10 mgs) and when you take it (ex: once a day at bedtime).
  • Patients having procedures at 100 Dudley Street, Providence, can park in the lot located behind the building, parking is free.