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Upper GI endoscopy (child)

3-minute read

What is an upper GI endoscopy?

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

What are the benefits of an upper GI endoscopy?

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

If the endoscopist finds a problem, they can perform biopsies to help make the diagnosis.

Are there any alternatives to an upper GI endoscopy?

A barium meal is an x-ray test of the upper digestive system. This test is not as accurate as an upper GI endoscopy, and if your doctor finds a problem your child may still need an upper GI endoscopy to perform biopsies.

What does the procedure involve?

The procedure is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

The endoscopist will place a flexible telescope (endoscope) into the back of your child's throat, down into their oesophagus and then into their stomach. From here the endoscope will pass into your child's duodenum.

The endoscopist will be able to look for problems such as inflammation or ulcers. They will be able to perform biopsies and take photographs to help make the diagnosis.

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

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

Endoscopy complications

  • sore throat
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • infection
  • making a hole in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum
  • damage to teeth
  • bleeding from a biopsy site or from minor damage caused by the endoscope

How soon will my child recover?

Your child may feel a bit bloated for a few hours but this will pass.

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the endoscopy and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up that your child needs. Results from biopsies will not be available for a few days so the healthcare team may arrange for you to come back to the clinic for these results.

Summary

An upper GI endoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if your child has a problem with the upper part of their digestive system.

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Last reviewed: September 2022


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