Endoscopy and Colonoscopy

Endoscopy - Patient Guide

An upper GI endoscopy is a procedure to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (part of the small intestine) with a thin, flexible, lighted tube. It is used to evaluate swallowing difficulties,  vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, and persistent abdominal pain, or to detect inflammation, ulcers, and cancer.

How to Prepare

1. Your physician’s office will give you instructions to prepare for your exam. Please follow the instructions exactly.
2. If you have any questions regarding your instructions, please contact your physician’s office.

Eating and Drinking

Your stomach should be completely empty for the exam, so please do not  eat or drink anything – not even water –  after midnight the night before your exam. Do not have gum, cough drops, breath mints or other small items that might not seem significant. This fasting reduces the risk of complications during the exam. (Exceptions: Infants up to 9 months old may have breast milk only (not formula) until four hours before surgery. Children from 9 months to 6 years old may have clear liquids until four hours before surgery, according to the American Society for Pediatric Anesthesia.)


Do not consume alcohol for 24 hours before your exam.

Medications and supplements

Coumadin, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory medications (such as Advil and Motrin), herbal medications and some supplements can all cause bleeding. Please check with your physician regarding these medications before your exam, and let him or her know if you require antibiotics before dental examinations.

Secure a Ride Home

You will not be able or permitted to drive home, so please arrange ahead of time for a responsible adult to drive you. This is mandatory and is for your safety. If you receive general anesthesia or sedation, you must not drive or operate any machinery or power tools for 24 hours.

Patients Under Age 18

A parent or guardian must accompany patients under age 18 and remain in the waiting area during the child's exam.

Postponing Surgery

Contact your physician if you develop a rash, fever or cold so he or she can determine whether it is best to postpone your surgery.

The Day of Your Exam

Before coming in for your exam, please:

  • Shower and dress in clean, comfortable clothing that is easy to remove.
  • Do not wear makeup or nail polish. We must be able to see your natural coloring during your procedure.
  • Do not wear any jewelry, do not bring other valuables with you, and be sure to remove any body-piercing jewelry.  
  • Bring eyeglasses if you require them so you can read a few documents.
  • Bring hearing aids if you require them.
  • If you are unable to keep your appointment, please contact the ambulatory surgery department at your designated location after 6 a.m.


Please arrive one to one-and-a-half hours before your scheduled procedure time to allow for registration and necessary preparations. Report directly to the admitting office. You will be instructed to go to the registration desk to check in and escorted to the pre-endoscopy unit. A nurse will greet you and prepare you for your exam. 


  • We will ask you to remove dentures, partial plates, contact lenses and any prostheses before your procedure.

During the exam

We will give you pain medication and a mild sedative to keep you comfortable and relaxed. The physician may spray your throat with numbing medicine. You will lie on your left side. We will place a small mouthpiece between your teeth. Your physician will help you swallow the thin, flexible endoscope. You will be able to breathe normally. The endoscope introduces air into the stomach to help the physician see clearly. The physician will examine your esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
An upper GI endoscopy usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, but plan to be at the hospital for three to four hours for preparation and recovery. Family members may wait in the waiting area, or leave their phone number and be called when you are ready to be discharged.

After the exam

We will take you to the recovery area. Many patients do not recall the exam because of the medication, and also do not recall speaking with the physician. You will feel drowsy and may sleep for a short time. Your throat may be sore, and you may feel bloated. Unless instructed otherwise, you will be able to resume eating your regular diet after you leave the hospital
When you are ready to be discharged from the hospital, the recovery nurse will give you written instructions to follow.
The day after your exam, a nurse will call you to make sure you did not experience problems after your exam. If your exam is performed on a Friday, you will receive a phone call the following Monday.
For more information, please call your physician.