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Upper Endoscopy In Children


What do I need to know about an upper endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy is also called an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, or an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). A scope (thin, flexible tube with a light and camera) is used to examine the walls of your child's upper intestines. The upper intestines include the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). An EGD is used to look for problems, such as bleeding, swelling, polyps, ulcers, or infection. An upper endoscopy in children is often used to find the cause of abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or nausea and vomiting. It may also be done to remove foreign bodies such as a swallowed coin or toy.

How do I prepare my child for an upper endoscopy?

  • Your child's healthcare provider will tell you when your child should stop eating or drinking before his procedure. If your child's procedure will be later in the day, you may be able to give your child clear liquids until 2 to 4 hours before his procedure. Clear liquids include water, oral rehydration solutions (ORS), or juices without pulp. Do not give your child clear liquids that are red or purple. Stop breastfeeding your child 4 hours before his procedure.
  • Your child's healthcare provider will tell you what medicines your child should take or not take on the day of his procedure. If your child is 6 years of age or older, explain what might happen during his procedure, to decrease his anxiety. This may also increase his cooperation and tolerance for the procedure. Your child's healthcare provider may give him medicine to help him relax before the procedure starts.

What will happen during an upper endoscopy?

  • Your child may receive IV sedation or general anesthesia. IV sedation will make him feel sleepy and help him relax during the procedure. General anesthesia may be given to keep your child asleep and free from pain during the procedure. Your child's healthcare provider may have you come into the procedure room until your child is asleep. This may decrease your child's anxiety and help him cooperate with healthcare providers.
  • Your child may also be given medicine to numb his throat. Your child may need to wear a plastic mouthpiece to help hold his mouth open and protect his teeth and tongue. Your child's healthcare provider will gently insert the endoscope through his mouth and down into his throat. Your child may feel pressure in his throat but he should not feel pain. The endoscope will not prevent your child from breathing.
  • Your child's healthcare provider will watch the scope on a monitor. He will take pictures with the scope and look for any abnormal areas. He may gently inject air so he can see your child's digestive tract clearly. Your child's healthcare provider may take tissue samples and send them to the lab for tests. He may remove foreign objects, tumors, or polyps that may be blocking your child's upper intestines. Your healthcare provider may also insert tools through the scope to treat bleeding or place a stent (tube). When the procedure is finished, the endoscope will be slowly removed.

What will happen after an upper endoscopy?

Healthcare providers will monitor your child until he is awake. They will feel your child's stomach and listen to his bowel sounds with a stethoscope. Your child may feel bloated, gassy, or have some abdominal discomfort or distention. Your child's throat may be sore for 24 to 36 hours after the procedure. It is normal for your child to spit up a small amount of blood. Your child may burp or pass gas from air that is still inside his body after the procedure. Your child may need to take short walks or lie on his left side to help move the gas out. Your child's healthcare provider may prescribe (order) medicine depending on what he finds during the procedure. Your child may be able to go home after he is awake and can drink liquids, or he may need to spend a night in the hospital.

What are the risks of an upper endoscopy?

Your child's esophagus, stomach, or duodenum may be punctured or torn during the procedure. This is because of increased pressure as the scope and air are passing through. Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your child may have a slow or irregular heartbeat, or low blood pressure, during the procedure. This can cause sweating and fainting. Fluid may enter your child's lungs and he may have trouble breathing. These problems can be life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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