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    Learning About Your Health

    Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy

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    What Is an Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy?

    Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy is a test where your doctor looks inside the upper part of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your doctor looks in the esophagus (throat), stomach and the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) for any abnormalities (things that are not normal). These abnormalities may include bleeding, ulcers, infections or irritation that can cause nausea, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing.

    The doctor gives you medicines to make you sleepy and relaxed for this test. The doctor uses a thin flexible tube (called an endoscope). This test does not hurt because the endoscope is smaller then a piece of food you might swallow. The endoscope allows the doctor a way to look inside of your GI tract. The scope passes into your mouth slowly into the throat, stomach, and upper intestine.

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    Prepare for Your Upper Endoscopy

    Your stomach must be completely empty to do this test. Your doctor gives you instructions to get ready for your test. This is called "prep". The prep has special directions on foods, drinks, and medicines.

    The prep is very important for the doctor to see the whole GI tract. Follow the prep carefully.

    • First, check the date for your upper endoscopy test.

    • Next, check the date and time the doctor wants you to start your prep. You may need to start your prep 1-2 days before your test.

    • Read the directions for your prep a few days before your test to make sure you understand them. If you have any questions about the prep, please call your doctor's office.

    • If you do not complete the prep before your upper endoscopy, you must re-schedule the test.

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    Before Your Upper Endoscopy

    • DO NOT eat or drink anything after midnight (before the test) unless your doctor tells you otherwise.


    • For your comfort, the doctor gives you medicine before your test that makes you sleepy. You cannot drive or work with machinery until the day after your test.


    • For your safety, make sure someone can drive you home after your test. You may also arrange for medical transportation for a cost. Ask the staff in your doctor's office or check the phone book for more information about this service. Note: If you come to the hospital for your test and you do not have a ride home, you must re-schedule your test.

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    During Your Upper Endoscopy

    1. You sign a consent form that says you understand the test you are having. This is a good time to ask questions about your test.

    2. Your nurse puts an intravenous line (IV) in a vein in your arm. This is to give you fluid and medicine to make you comfortable.

    3. The nurse asks questions about your health and any medicines you take. Tell your doctor or nurse if you are allergic to any medicines, or if you are taking aspirin or anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine.

    4. You meet with your doctor right before your upper endoscopy. Please tell the doctor or nurse about any special needs you may have.

    5. The doctor gives you some medicine in your IV that makes you sleepy. Your doctor may spray your throat with an anesthetic to make you more comfortable.

    6. During the upper endoscopy, you may feel a little discomfort. The endoscope does not get in the way of your breathing. Tell the doctor or nurse if you are uncomfortable.

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    After Your Upper Endoscopy

    • You stay in a recovery room for 30 minutes to one hour.


    • Your nurse gives you instructions on how to take care of yourself at home. You will get a written copy to take with you.


    • Your driver (or medical transportation service) needs to pick you up from the GI Lab one hour after your test.


    • The nurse can call your driver and tell them where and what time to pick you up.


    • Your nurse will call you a day or two after your test to ask how you are.

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    Where to go for Your Upper Endoscopy

    • You can pre-register for your test by calling (415) 600-0900.

      • If you have pre-registered:
        Go to 3698 California Street, 4th Floor at least 30 minutes before your appointment.


      • If you have not pre-registered:
        Go to 3698 California Street, 1st Floor at least 1 hour before your appointment. Register on the 1st floor then go to the 4th floor GI Lab for your test.
    • When you arrive in the GI Lab, please check in at the reception desk.


    • Parking is available next to the building on Maple Street and at the corner of Cherry and California Street. The parking garage does not have an elevator. There is a shuttle available. Tell the parking attendant if you need the shuttle. Please allow enough time to park.
    Note: This handout is also available in Chinese, Russian, and Spanish.



    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the staff and physicians at California Pacific Medical Center. Last updated: 9/06


    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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