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What is upper gastrointestinal endoscope?

An upper gastrointestinal endoscope is a flexible fiber-optic which consists of a camera that can view the image of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.

When to conduct an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy?

If anyone who encounter one of the colorectal cancer symptoms such as peptic ulcer disease or bleeding, black stool, stomach pain, oesophageal or gastric cancer, symptoms of indigestion, acid reflux or difficulty in swallowing, they should go for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to check whether there is any abnormality such as ulcer or cancer.

Preparation before upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

Prior to upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a period of 6-hour fasting is needed.  Patient should inform the medical staff of any major medical problems including diabetes, hypertension and pregnancy, and continue their medications as instructed.  Patient should also provide information concerning the current medications used and any allergic history.  Patients should avoid driving to attend the out-patient procedure appointment and also avoid heavy drinking, smoking or use of sedative before the procedure.  All patients are recommended to be accompanied by family member or friend for their safety.

How is the process of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy?

Prior to the examination, local anaesthetics would be sprayed to the throat of patient.  A flexible colonoscope with a diameter of 0.9-1.2 cm will then be introduced by the endoscopist through the mouth to perform the examination.  In general, the procedure would last for around 15 to 30 minutes.  But according to complexity, the procedure time may be prolonged.

Possible risks or complications of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

During the upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, minor discomfort including nausea and distention discomfort of stomach is common.  The local anaesthetics would keep the throat numb for approximately one hour which will lead to swallowing difficulty.  Major complications including perforation, bleeding, cardiopulmonary complication, infection or acute intestinal obstruction may happen. In general, the complication risk is less than 1% but it varies depending on patients’ conditions.  Complication rate would be higher in cases that require polypectomy, endoscopic hemostasis or other relevant procedures.  When major complications arise, emergency surgical treatment may be needed and mortality may happen.  Patient should consult the attending physician for more information before the endoscopic procedure.

Care after upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

Patients should remain fasted until anaethesia has worn off which will last for approximately one hour. This prevents choking with food or fluid intake.  If intravenous sedation is used, patients should avoid operating heavy machinery, driving or sign any contract for the rest of the day.

On the other hand, if there is any abnormality or enquiry about the examination, patient should contact our centre during office hour for query.  If there is severe abdominal pain or gastrointestinal bleeding, patient should go to the nearest “Accident and Emergency” immediately and to inform their staff that upper gastrointestinal endoscopy has been done.