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What is upper endoscopy used for?

Your doctor might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). A biopsy helps your doctor distinguish between benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Biopsies are taken for many reasons, and your doctor may take a biopsy even if he or she does not suspect cancer. For example, your doctor might use a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers. Your doctor might also use upper endoscopy to perform a cytology test, where he or she will introduce a small brush to collect cells for analysis. Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities -- this will cause you little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor might stretch (dilate) a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding. 
An upper endoscopy, which is a medical procedure to visually examine the esophagus, the stomach and part of the duodenum, is commonly used to help identify the causes of abdominal or chest pain, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, bleeding, or swallowing disorders. Abnormalities can also be treated through the endoscope: polyps (usually benign growths) can be identified and removed, and tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken for analysis. Procedures such as stretching narrowed areas, removing swallowed objects, or treating bleeding from the upper digestive system can also be performed as part of an upper endoscopy. Endoscopy can also help identify inflammation, ulcers, and tumors.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.