Hiatal hernias are typically diagnosed through one of two methods: an X-ray or with an upper endoscopy. While it’s simple enough to understand how an X-ray can help diagnose a hiatal hernia, upper endoscopies aren’t as well known. Of course, this isn’t to say that they are uncommon, in fact, they are the most popular tool for diagnosing GI issues in patients.

So, what is an upper endoscopy and how does it help diagnose a hiatal hernia? Let’s take some time to find out!

What Is An Upper Endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy is a procedure which helps to visually examine the upper portion of a patient’s digestive system through a tiny camera attached to the end of a long, thin tube. Aside from its power to diagnose Hiatal hernias, an upper endoscopy procedure can also be used to treat or investigate issues concerning the esophagus, stomach, and beginning of the small intestine.

How Is An Upper Endoscopy Procedure Done?

Upper endoscopies used to diagnose Hiatal hernias are typically quick, noninvasive procedures that can be done on an outpatient basis at a clinic specializing in gastroesophageal disorders, such as the Tampa Bay Reflux Center.

Although the procedure is not painful, it can be rather uncomfortable. That is why we encourage our patients to be prepared for all of the before, during, and after aspects of the procedure. If you are awaiting an upper endoscopy procedure, here is what you can expect from an upper endoscopy.

Before An Upper Endoscopy

Before an upper endoscopy, you’ll want to make sure to keep your stomach empty, which means you’ll probably need to fast from foods or drinks for about 6 to 8 eight hours before the procedure. Your doctor may also ask you to temporarily stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners to reduce the risk of bleeding. Most importantly, before an upper endoscopy, make sure to follow any and all instructions given by your doctor.

During An Upper Endoscopy

During the procedure, you will likely be asked to lay on your side or on your back. Then, you will be connected to certain vitals tracking machines, such as a blood pressure cuff and pulse monitor. At this point, your doctor will likely administer a sedative by vein, as well as spray an anesthetic in your mouth to numb the sensation of the tube.

Once you are properly sedated and your mouth and throat are numb, your doctor will pass the endoscope tube down your throat. You may be asked to swallow to help it travel and you may feel some gentle air pressure being fed to your esophagus to allow it better movement.

After An Upper Endoscopy

Typically, an upper endoscopy procedure will last 15 to 20 minutes. Once the doctor is done, they will slowly retract the endoscope from your esophagus and throat. At this point, you will probably be taken to lie or sit in a recovery room for about an hour until the sedative wears off.

Afterward, you may experience some bloating and gas, cramping, and sore throat, but these symptoms will wear off. All you have to do is relax and take it easy for the remainder of the day.

More Information

After an upper endoscopy, your results should be ready within at least 3 days. To be sure exactly when your results will be ready, ask your doctor. To book an appointment with one of our gastroesophageal specialists about your Hiatal hernia, be sure to contact us or book an appointment today!