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Upper GI endoscopy and dilatation

3-minute read

What is an upper GI endoscopy and dilatation?

An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is a procedure to look at the inside of your oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum using a flexible telescope.

Your symptoms or previous tests suggest you may have a narrowing (stricture). A dilatation involves stretching the narrowed area.

Illustration showing an upper GI endoscopy.
An upper GI endoscopy.

What are the benefits of an upper GI endoscopy and dilatation?

An upper GI endoscopy is a good way of finding out if there is a problem.

It is important to know what is causing the narrowing to decide on any further treatment.

Are there any alternatives to an upper GI endoscopy and dilatation?

Your doctor has recommended an upper GI endoscopy and dilatation as it is the best way of diagnosing and treating the narrowing. You can decide to leave the problem alone but this is not recommended.

What does the procedure involve?

An upper GI endoscopy and dilatation usually takes about 15 minutes.

If appropriate, the endoscopist may offer you a sedative or painkiller.

The endoscopist will place a flexible telescope (endoscope) into the back of your throat. From here the endoscope will pass into your duodenum.

The endoscopist will be able to look for problems in these organs. They will be able to perform biopsies and take photographs to help make the diagnosis.

The endoscopist can perform a dilatation using one of the following techniques.

  • Guidewire and dilators — This involves inserting a guidewire (thin flexible wire) down the endoscope and across the narrowing.
  • Balloon dilator — This involves passing a balloon dilator down the endoscope and inflating it while inside the narrowing.

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What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

  • allergic reaction
  • sore throat
  • breathing difficulties or heart irregularities
  • heart attack or stroke
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • making a hole in your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum
  • damage to teeth or bridgework
  • incomplete procedure

How soon will I recover?

After the procedure you will be transferred to the recovery area where you can rest. If you were not given a sedative, you should be able to go home.

If you were given a sedative, you will usually recover in about an hour.

You should be able to return to work after 1 to 2 days unless you are told otherwise.

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the endoscopy and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Summary

An upper GI endoscopy and dilatation is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem with the upper part of your digestive system and treating your symptoms.

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Last reviewed: September 2022


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