Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a chronic health condition in which you experience recurring episodes of acid reflux. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), it’s a common condition, affecting an estimated 20 percent of people in the United States.

The main symptom of gdre is heartburn, a burning sensation due to stomach acid flowing back up into your esophagus. Retortion is when stomach contents go up into the throat or mouth.

An upper GI endoscopy is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera to look inside of your upper GI tract. It can be used to perform procedures.

The treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease can be done with the upper GI endoscopy. We will go over the uses, the procedure, and the risks associated with it.

endoscopy, endoscopy for gerd
Illustration by Sophia Smith

Experiencing frequent heartburn or regurgitation often points to GERD. Because of this, a doctor may suspect GERD after reviewing your medical history and doing a physical examination.

If this is the case, they’ll start you on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs treat GERD by lowering the production of stomach acid. A response to treatment with PPIs can confirm the diagnosis of GERD without further tests.

If you have less common symptoms, your doctor may want to order an upper GI endoscopy to see what is causing them.

An upper GI endoscopy, also called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, allows your doctor to examine the lining of your upper GI tract. This includes your esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of your small intestine (duodenum).

Doing an endoscopy allows your doctor to see if your symptoms are due to GERD, its complications, or another health condition. During the procedure, they may also collect a sample of tissue called a biopsy to analyze.

Other tests that might be used to diagnose GERD

Other tests can be used to diagnose gdre or its related problems. These include:

  • Ambulatory esophageal pH monitoring. This test uses a catheter or small capsule placed into your esophagus to track changes in pH, which can signal the presence of stomach acid. This information can indicate how different factors like diet and sleep relate to your symptoms.
  • Esophageal manometry. Esophageal manometry can help to find problems with your esophagus. It measures muscle contractions in your esophagus as you swallow. It can also evaluate the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
  • Barium swallow. A barium swallow helps detect narrowing of the esophagus or a hiatal hernia. You’ll swallow a chalky substance called barium, which coats your upper GI tract. A series of X-rays will then be taken to look at these tissues.

Doctors typically treat GERD using a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Medications include PPIs and H2 receptor blockers.

When is when your doctor may recommend surgery.

  • “lifestyle changes and medication aren’t effective at managing gds symptoms”
  • Side effects of medications for gdre are significant.
  • You want to stop using drugs to treat gdr.

The most readily performed surgeries for GERD are fundoplication and Linx surgery.

One newer endoscopy-based surgical technique for GERD is called transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF). This procedure involves an endoscopy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TIF in 2007, and as of 2016, over 17,000 procedures had been completed.

“The LES is a muscular valve that connects the stomach and the esophagus. The LES may open when it shouldn’t in some people with GERD. This allows stomach acid to get back into the body.”

EsophyX is an device that is passed through the mouth and into the stomach. It folds the upper part of the stomach up against the lower part of the stomach.

According to a 2016 review, the device then places a series of about 20 polypropylene fasteners, which are similar to stitches, in order to secure the area. The result is a tightened LES.

A 2021 review included 8 studies and looked into the outcomes of TIF over an average follow-up period of about 5 years. It found that:

  • Before and after the tax increment financing, reported satisfaction was 12.3 percent and 70.6 percent.
  • The rates of people using them completely and occasionally decreased after the tax increase.
  • The people who reported an improved quality of life and reduced gdr symptoms were the majority.

If your doctor orders an upper GI endoscopy, you need to do a few things.

  • Have a conversation with your doctor. Be sure to let your doctor know about any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements you’re taking and whether you have any medication allergies.
  • Adjust or stop medications. While you can take most medications as directed before your procedure, your doctor may instruct you to temporarily adjust or stop certain medications, such as:
  • Fast. In order to get the best view of your upper GI tract, your doctor will request that you not eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before your endoscopy, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Having a small sip of water to take medications is generally allowed, though.
  • Arrange for a ride. Sedatives will be used during the endoscopy, which means that it isn’t safe for you to drive afterward. Be sure to arrange for help getting home after your procedure.

Your doctor will give you more specific instructions on how to prepare. Follow these carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to raise them.

You can go home the same day after an upper GI endoscopy. It is usually performed at a hospital or medical center.

When you arrive, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any jewelry. A healthcare professional will check vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen and place an intravenous (IV) line into your arm or hand.

The upper GI endoscopy procedure itself is rather quick. The NIDDK says it often takes between 15 and 30 minutes. It typically involves the following steps:

  1. Your doctor will ask you to lie down on the exam table.
  2. You will be given a sedative via the IV. You may also receive a numbing medication for your mouth and throat, as well as a mouthguard to protect your teeth.
  3. “The upper GI tract includes your stomach, duodenum, and esophagus. It shouldn’t be painful as you feel pressure or discomfort.”
  4. The camera on the endoscope will record the lining of your upper GI tract. The air will be blown out by the endoscope to get a better view.
  5. At any point in the procedure, your doctor may choose to take a sample to examine later in the laboratory.
  6. Your doctor will remove the scope at the end of the procedure.

After the endoscopy is complete, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where you’ll be monitored for about 1 to 2 hours as the effects of the sedative wear off. You’ll then be able to return home.

You will get instructions on how to care for yourself when you leave the hospital. If you have them, ask questions and follow the instructions carefully.

The numbing medication used during your endoscopy inhibits your gag reflex. To lower the risk of choking, you’ll be instructed not to eat or drink anything until this medication wears off and you can swallow as usual again.

Having bloating or cramping for a short time is typical. This is due to the air that’s blown through the endoscope during the procedure. You may also have a sore throat due to the endoscope, but this typically only lasts for a couple of days.

“Your doctor will want to see the results of your endoscopy with you when they are ready. Your results may be available the same day. Your doctor will contact you at a later date if you don’t respond.”

Everyone with gds will not need an endoscopy. If common symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation respond to treatment with PPIs, this is enough to diagnose gd

If you are experiencing symptoms that are not typical for gdre or are concerning, your doctor may order an upper GI endoscopy.

There are some examples of such symptoms.

Risks related to an upper GI endoscopy are rare and happen in less than 2 percent of people. The potential risks include:

Risks typically happen within the first 24 hours after the procedure. Get medical care right away if you develop symptoms like:

  • a sore throat that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Difficult swallowing
  • breathing problems
  • There is There is chest pain..
  • The pain in your abdomen is getting worse.
  • vomiting, especially if it contains blood
  • Your stool has blood in it.
  • fever, with or without chills

Upper GI endoscopy can help your doctor diagnose GERD. While it’s not ordered in all cases, it may be necessary if you have atypical or alarming symptoms like trouble swallowing or There is There is chest pain…

“The TIF procedure can be used to treat gdr. This is not uncommon. When other treatments aren’t effective or can’t be used, surgery is only recommended.”

“An upper GI endoscopy is an outpatient procedure. Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions and make sure your procedure goes smoothly.”