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An endoscopy is an exam that’s used to look at the inside of the digestive tract. During an upper endoscopy, a doctor inserts an endoscope — a flexible tube with a light and camera — through the mouth into the patient’s body, and then views the images on a monitor. This allows the doctor to look at the esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine.

WakeMed’s gastroenterologists have years of experience in performing endoscopic procedures, and are experts in using the findings to accurately diagnose and treat patients.

Conditions That an Endoscopy Is Used For

Some of the conditions an endoscopy can be used to diagnose include:

What to Expect from an Endoscopy

WakeMed has a dedicated endoscopy unit at Cary Hospital, with 13 private rooms that are staffed by registered nurses with extensive experience.  

Generally, light sedation is administered. Then, the doctor inserts a thin, flexible endoscope through the mouth and throat, showing inside the upper digestive tract.

An endoscopy takes 15 to 30 minutes, and isn’t usually painful. Patients may feel slight pressure and discomfort.

How to Prepare for an Endoscopy

Typically, patients will need to fast for eight hours before an upper endoscopy. The patient’s gastroenterologist will explain any individual instructions. Here’s a general list of what to expect:

  • Talk to the doctor about any medications, vitamins and herbs you’re taking.
  • Take heart, blood pressure, seizure, and asthma medicine with two tablespoons of water, unless instructed otherwise by the doctor.
  • Do not take insulin or diabetes pills.
  • If you use an inhaler or CPAP device, bring it to the hospital.
  • Inform the endoscopy nurse if you have taken blood thinner medications (Plavix, Heparin, and Coumadin) within the month prior to your procedure.
  • Brush your teeth the morning of the procedure, but do not swallow any water.
  • Bathe or shower before the procedure, and wear loose comfortable clothing.
  • If you wear contact lenses, bring contact supplies or wear glasses.
  • Do not wear any make-up or dark colored nail polish.
  • Leave valuables at home, including jewelry, piercings and money.

The doctor or nurse will provide information on when to arrive at the hospital.

After an Endoscopy

After the procedure, the patient is transferred to the endoscopy recovery area for post-op discharge care. If needed, the care team can assist the patient with dressing and getting to the bathroom. Two family members are allowed to wait in the recovery area with the patient.

A nurse will provide instructions for follow-up care at home. Someone will be required to drive the patient home. It's also important to have a responsible adult stay with the patient during the first 24 hours after the procedure. The doctor will instruct the patient as to when they can resume normal activities, such as work, exercise or school.

Patients should also:

  • Avoid driving for 24 hours.
  • Avoid using appliances and machinery.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid making critical decisions.
  • Watch for trouble signs such as difficulty in breathing, excessive bleeding, pain or fever. If any of these signs occur contact the physician, or seek emergency care if necessary.

Make an Appointment

If you or someone you care for needs to schedule an endoscopy, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of WakeMed’s experienced gastroenterologists.