720 S.W. Lane
Topeka, Kan. 66606

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(785) 270-4800

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Upper Endoscopy Q & A

Information for Patients Having Upper Endoscopy

This information has been designed to answer your questions about upper endoscopy. Your physician has determined that this procedure is necessary to further evaluate and treat your condition. It is important to read this carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Endoscopy Center or the office of the physician who has recommended the exam. 

Q: Where am I receiving my upper endoscopy?

A: The Cotton-O’Neil Endoscopy Center is a Medicare/Joint Commission certified ambulatory endoscopy center. It is located on the first floor of the Cotton-O’Neil Digestive Health Center, 720 S.W. Lane, Topeka. It is staffed by a team of gastroenterologists. The Endoscopy Center phone number is (785) 270-4800 and office hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Q: What is upper endoscopy?

A: Upper endoscopy (also known as upper GI endoscopy or EGD) allows a gastroenterologist to examine the lining of your upper gastrointestinal tract. Using a thin flexible tube, your esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine) can be viewed.

Q: Why is upper endoscopy performed?

A: Upper endoscopy is generally performed to evaluate signs or symptoms that might point to a problem involving the upper gastrointestinal tract. These signs and symptoms include abdominal pain, chronic heartburn and indigestion, dysphagia (difficult or painful swallowing), chest pain, anemia, or occult blood in the stool. Upper endoscopy is more accurate than X-rays in evaluating the upper gastrointestinal tract. At the time of upper endoscopy, biopsies can be obtained to evaluate abnormalities found at the time of upper endoscopy as well as to check for other conditions that might only be evident by microscopic analysis. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean cancer is suspected. Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions involving the upper gastrointestinal tract. Examples include stretching narrowed areas, removing swallowed objects, or treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding. A variety of instruments can be passed through the endoscope that allow a wide range of abnormalities to be treated.

Q: What preparation is required?

A: For the safest and most accurate examination, the stomach must be completely empty. In general, you should have nothing to eat after midnight. You may have clear liquids until six hours prior to the procedure. 

Q: What about my current medications?

A: Most medications may be continued as usual but adjustments in other medications are frequently necessary. Inform your physician and the Endoscopy Center nurse of your current medications and any allergies to medications. Aspirin, aspirin products, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (Coumadin, Plavix), and insulin are examples of medications that will need to be adjusted prior to your examination. Patients with prosthetic heart valves and certain other conditions may require antibiotics prior to upper endoscopy. If you are a diabetic who takes insulin, please bring it with you on the day of your examination. If you use breathing inhalers, bring them along as well. Certain weight loss medications will need to be stopped for up to two weeks prior to your procedure.

Q: What can be expected during my upper endoscopy?

A: Before the test begins, your throat may be sprayed with a local anesthetic. Medications will be given intravenously to make you sleepy. The vast majority of patients experience no discomfort with upper endoscopy. While you are in a comfortable position on your left side, the endoscope is passed through the mouth and then through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. As the endoscope is slowly withdrawn, the inside of the duodenum, stomach, and esophagus are carefully examined. If abnormalities are present or suspected, biopsies can be obtained. Biopsies will not cause discomfort during or after the procedure. A typical upper endoscopy takes 5-10 minutes. The endoscope will not interfere with your breathing during the examination.

Q: What about family and friends?

A: From the time you arrive, plan to spend approximately two hours with us. This includes the time needed to check you in, get you ready for the procedure, do the examination, and allow for your recovery. A family member or friend may wait in the waiting room while we care for you. A telephone is available in the waiting room for local calls. Family and friends are allowed in the recovery room for a short visit. Your doctor will visit with them before your discharge. 

Q: What if my upper endoscopy shows something abnormal?

A: If during the course of your upper endoscopy an abnormality is detected, a biopsy will be obtained. This is done by passing a forceps instrument through the channel in the endoscope and obtaining a small piece of tissue for analysis. A test on a biopsy specimen may be done (rapid urease test) to check for a bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori). Narrowed areas in the esophagus or stomach may be dilated or stretched using different techniques or instruments. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean cancer is suspected.

Q: What are the possible complications of upper endoscopy?

A: One possible complication is a perforation or tear through the wall of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum which could require surgery. Bleeding may occur from a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed. It is usually minimal and rarely requires blood transfusions or surgery. Localized irritation of the vein where the medication is injected may cause a tender lump that can last for days or even possibly weeks. Applying hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedation used and complications from heart or lung diseases. Although complications after upper endoscopy are rare, contact the Cotton-O’Neil Endoscopy Center or your physician if you notice any of the following symptoms: fever, trouble swallowing, or increasing throat, chest, or abdominal pain. Upper endoscopy is a very safe diagnostic procedure performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these endoscopic procedures. 

Q: What happens after my upper endoscopy?

A: After your upper endoscopy, the gastroenterologist will explain the results to you and your family. Your primary care and/or referring physician will also be notified of the results. If a biopsy was obtained, you will be instructed as to how and when you will receive those results. In most cases, those results will be mailed to you.

You will receive written instructions and information regarding the results of the examination to take home with you. Because of the lasting effects of the sedation you will receive, you may not drive yourself home. Some patients might benefit from having an adult stay with them at home until they are fully recovered. Your throat may be sore for a day or two and you may feel bloated right after the procedure because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test.

Wear comfortable clothing. Be sure and leave your jewelry and valuables at home. Unless we tell you otherwise, you should be able to resume your usual diet. You may also resume your medications unless otherwise instructed. Certain medications, particularly blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix and Coumadin, may need to be held if biopsies and/or polyps were removed. Most people are ready to leave the Endoscopy Center after spending 30 minutes in recovery. If you live out of town, you might want to bring along a pillow and blanket so that you can rest on your trip home.

Q: What about my health insurance?

A: Our insurance clerk will call your insurance provider before the procedure date to verify your coverage. Please remember to have your primary care physician generate a referral for this procedure if necessary. Referrals must be done in advance of the examination date. Bring your insurance cards with you on the day of your procedure.

Most insurance plans require the patient to pay a deductible and/or co-pay. These fees are the responsibility of the patient and are due at the time the medical service is rendered. If requested, we will assist you in determining the amount of fees you may be responsible for, and we will work with you to set up payment plans as needed.

Our insurance clerk can quote you the basic fees for the procedure, but keep in mind that fees vary depending on the type of procedure being performed.

You will receive two billing statements: one from the Endoscopy Center for the facility fee and one from the physician who does your procedure. If you should have biopsies taken or polyps removed, you will also receive a billing statement from the pathology group that processes the specimens.

For insurance questions before your procedure, please call (785) 270-4803 to speak with our insurance clerk.