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Upper GI Endoscopy: Before Your Child's Procedure

What is an upper GI endoscopy?

An upper gastrointestinal (or GI) endoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inside of your child's esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The esophagus is the tube that carries food to the stomach.

The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube that bends. It is called an endoscope, or scope. The scope is a flexible video camera. The doctor looks at a monitor (like a TV set or a computer screen) as he or she moves the scope.

The doctor puts the tip of the scope in your child's mouth and gently moves it down the throat. A doctor may do this procedure to look for the cause of belly pain or bleeding. It also can be used to look for signs of acid backing up into the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

The doctor can use the scope to take a sample of tissue for study (a biopsy). The doctor also can use the scope to take out growths or stop bleeding.

You can take your child home after your doctor checks to make sure your child is not having any problems.

Your child may stay overnight if your doctor did a biopsy or treatment during the test.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Talk to your child about the procedure. Tell your child that the endoscopy will help find what's causing problems in your child's belly. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the procedure, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the procedure. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.

The day before the procedure

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's procedure and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before the procedure. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the procedure may be cancelled. If the doctor told you to have your child take his or her medicines on the day of the procedure, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush his or her teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that reminds him or her of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or clinic

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. The doctor may spray medicine on the back of your child's throat to numb it. Your child also will get medicine to prevent pain and help him or her relax. Some children find that they do not remember having the test because of the medicine.
  • The procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.
  • After the procedure, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor his or her condition. The doctor will talk to you about the procedure.
  • You will probably be able to take your child home about 1 to 2 hours after the procedure.
  • Your child will lie on the left side. The doctor will put the scope in your child's mouth and toward the back of the throat. The doctor will tell your child when to swallow. This helps the scope move down the throat. Your child will be able to breathe normally. The doctor will move the scope down the esophagus into the stomach. The doctor also may look at the duodenum.
  • If your doctor wants to take a sample of tissue for a biopsy, he or she may use small surgical tools, which are put into the scope, to cut off some tissue. Your child will not feel a biopsy. The doctor also can use the tools to stop bleeding or to do other treatments.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your child for the procedure.
  • Your child becomes ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your child having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

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