Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is an extremely safe procedure in the vast majority of patients. However rarely there are associated adverse outcomes. The main risk is aspiration of gastric contents either food, acid or bile. This usually happens in people who have a sluggish stomach called gastroparesis. This happens frequently in diabetic patients who may need to be on a clear liquid diet as part of the preparation for the endoscopy to minimize this risk. Otherwise, the risk of aspiration is extremely low. It is for this reason that patients are advocated not to eat any solid food for 8 hours prior to the procedure.
Risks of perforation or tearing the wall of the esophagus or stomach in a diagnostic endoscopy is extremely rare and occurs in less than 1 in a thousand such procedures. Endoscopy associated with therapeutic maneuvers such as dilation of the esophagus is associated with a higher risk especially if there is underlying esophageal inflammation such as eosinophilic esophagitis or forceful dilation in patients with a condition called achalasia.
Occasionally there is a risk of bleeding when we take large polyps out from the patient’s stomach. The risk of bleeding is very low in people who are not on blood thinners.
Some patients who have endoscopy for banding of esophageal varicose veins secondary to underlying cirrhosis of the liver can develop retrosternal chest pain after the procedure. Severe chest pain in patients who undergo dilation procedures mass seek immediate consultation for esophageal perforation. In capable hands, overall risk of upper endoscopy in Redding is extremely low. In the vast majority of patients who undergo this procedure, the benefits far outweigh the risks.