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Endoscopy in Children and Teens

digestive system

An endoscopy allows doctors to look inside the upper part of the digestive system -- the part that carries food from the stomach to the upper part of the intestines.

An endoscopy allows doctors to look inside the upper part of the digestive system. This part includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. This section of the digestive system carries food to the stomach and the first part of the intestines.

Your child’s doctor may order an endoscopy if your child has:  

  • Stomach pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Bleeding 
  • Diarrhea 

What to expect 

Here is what happens during an endoscopy procedure: 

An endoscopy is done in a hospital or clinic. You may stay in a waiting area while your child has the procedure.  

The care team gives them medicines to help them relax. Your child may fall asleep. 

The doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into your child’s mouth and down into their stomach. The tube has a light on the end that helps the doctor see. The doctor can also take pictures and put small instruments through the tube if needed. 

An endoscopy takes 15-20 minutes. Relaxing and deep breathing makes the procedure easier. The tube does not block your child’s breathing. 

Prepare for an endoscopy 

The doctor needs to be able to see everything as clearly as possible. Your child should not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the procedure. Babies younger than 1 should not eat or drink for 6 hours before the test. 

After an endoscopy 

Your child’s doctor will talk with you. Your child needs to stay at the hospital or clinic for a short time so the care team can make sure they are OK before they go home. 

Your child’s throat might feel numb for about an hour. Avoid letting your child eat or drink during this time. It might be dangerous because your child cannot feel the food or liquid. 

Your child might also have difficulty keeping their balance after an endoscopy. They should not drive after the test if they are old enough to drive. The medicines they had for the procedure make it dangerous to drive. 

If you have questions, talk to your care team. 

Key Points

  • An endoscopy can allow your child’s care team to look your child’s upper digestive system. 
  • Your child’s care team will let you know how to prepare for the procedure. But your child should not eat or drink 8 hours before it.  
  • Follow any instructions from your child’s care team exactly. 
  • Do not let your child eat or drink after the procedure if their throat is still numb. 
  • Your child’s care team will let you know the endoscopy results. 

Reviewed: September 2022