Direct visual examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract by means of a flexible fiberoptic endoscope. Typically, the procedure is carted out on an awake, but sedated, patient either in a specially equipped endoscopy suite or at the bedside in an intensive care unit.
The endoscope is inserted (by mouth) through the oropharynx, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Important anatomic landmarks are identified and mucosal surfaces are examined for suspicious lesions such as ulcers, erosions, polyps, strictures, malignancies, varices, bleeding sites, etc. Biopsy specimens can be easily obtained.