For the best results and to prevent the need to cancel or reschedule your endoscopy, please follow your Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz doctor's instructions. You will also receive a list of things to avoid and instructions on how to prepare for your procedure.
You will receive instructions about prescription medications you can and can't take before your procedure from your doctor's office. Your doctor will also give you a prescription for preparation medication that will cleanse your system in advance of your procedure.
Things you must avoid for the procedure:
- Aspirin, NSAIDS like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
- You may also need to avoid iron, fish oil and vitamin E.
- Your doctor may have you stop taking some of your medications or have you avoid certain foods for up to seven days before your procedure.
- Most doctors will require fasting to some extent and no liquids before your procedure.
- You must not eat solid foods before your procedure. Eating any solid foods may result in your procedure being canceled.
You must arrive at your given location one hour before your scheduled procedure time. Your entire stay will be between two to three hours.
For your safety, Sutter Health requires you to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
You are not permitted to take a taxi, operate any mode of transportation yourself, or use any public transportation to get home after the procedure. A responsible adult will need to drive you home and someone should stay with you for at least two hours to make sure there are no issues following the sedation or procedure.
You may also prearrange a ride with Lift Line (831) 688-9663, Paracruz (831) 425-4664 or Care from the Heart (831) 476-8316. These companies have medical training in transporting patients.
What to Expect Upon Arrival for Your Procedure
- Prior to the procedure, a nurse will ask you questions to ensure that you understand the procedure and the reason for it, and to ensure that you prepared properly for it. The gastroenterology doctor will also review the procedure with you.
- The nurse will start an intravenous line to administer medications. The intravenous line is similar to having blood drawn. Your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation) will be monitored closely before, during and after the procedure.
- The upper endoscopy will be performed while you are lying on your left side. Medications to help you relax (sedative) and narcotic (to help with discomfort) will be administered intravenously. Additional medication may be used to numb the back of the mouth. Some people sleep during the examination, while others are very relaxed, comfortable and awake. This is NOT general anesthesia.
After the Procedure
- Rest for the remainder of the day.
- Do not participate in any activities that require coordination or judgment. You may return to regular activities the day after the procedure.
- Depending on the findings of your upper endoscopy, we may recommend that you avoid traveling for 14 days after your procedure. Check with your doctor if you are planning any international travel.
- Some bloating, gas or mild cramping is normal and should diminish.
- At the conclusion of your procedure, you will receive specific information about findings, post-procedure instructions and precautions.
- Biopsy results are usually available in one week to 10 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an upper endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy is a routine and commonly performed procedure, in which a highly trained doctor (called a gastroenterologist) inserts an endoscope (a flexible tube about the thickness of your finger that contains a miniature camera at the tip) into the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine), in order to carefully inspect the upper gastrointestinal tract. Patients are sedated and the procedure is typically painless. A typical upper endoscopy takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Why is an upper endoscopy recommended?
Upper endoscopies are performed for many reasons, including the evaluation of heartburn or acid reflux symptoms, difficulty swallowing, gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia, abdominal pain or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Some patients may have a narrowing of the esophagus that could cause difficulty swallowing. In such cases, the narrowing can often be dilated (or stretched) as part of the upper endoscopy procedure.
What can I expect during an upper endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy is generally a well-tolerated procedure. Most patients are given a sedative and pain medication through an IV that is placed by the nurse before the procedure. Because of these medications, most patients do not experience pain or remember the procedure. You will typically lie on your left side during the procedure. After the endoscopy, you will spend about 30 minutes in the recovery area. During an upper endoscopy, your doctor is carefully inspecting the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine), and may take biopsies (the painless removal of a small sample of the tissue lining).
What are the risks of complications of upper endoscopy?
Upper endoscopy is a safe and routine procedure. However, like any procedure, it does carry some risks. These risks are small and uncommon. The most serious complication is a perforation, or a tear of the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, this might require emergency surgery. The risk of perforation is increased if dilation is performed. Bleeding is another possible complication. Bleeding often stops on its own, but sometimes requires additional treatment. Other potential complications are associated with the use of the sedative medications.
Will I be sleeping during the procedure?
Patients receive a sedative (a medication similar to Valium) and a pain killer (a medication related to morphine) during the procedure. This type of sedation is called moderate sedation, and some describe this as a "twilight sleep." Most patients are very comfortable, experience no pain and have no memory of the procedure. Technically, patients are conscious during these procedures, so they are able to respond to questions and can maintain their blood pressure and breathing at safe levels on their own. Some patients may wake up toward the end of the procedure. They may even watch the procedure on a monitor (most patients find this very interesting) and remain completely comfortable. If needed, additional sedatives can be given. This type of sedation is different from general anesthesia—a deeper level of sedation in which patients are unconscious. In these cases, an anesthesiologist is needed to help the patient regulate their blood pressure and breathing. Any form of sedation carries risks, but these risks are very low with moderate sedation.
What can I expect after an upper endoscopy?
You will be monitored closely in the recovery area as the sedatives wear off. You may experience a sore throat or some mild cramping and bloating. These symptoms typically resolve after the first day. Because sedatives may impair your judgment and coordination, you are required to have someone drive you home and to stay with you for a short period of time after the procedure. There are generally no restrictions on what you can eat after an upper endoscopy. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on whether you should take or avoid certain medications, depending on the findings of your upper endoscopy. If your doctor takes biopsies, you will be contacted when those results are available.
I take a lot of medications. Do I stop them all?
Please check with your gastroenterologist's office. Generally they will allow you to take all of your medications as prescribed by your other doctors unless specifically instructed otherwise.
Why do I need a ride home and someone to stay with me after the procedure?
Medications commonly given during upper endoscopy can temporarily impair judgment and coordination.
When can I return to work and normal activity?
For the most part, you should be back to normal by the day after your procedure, but your doctor will give you specific post-procedure instructions to follow.