There are several alternatives available to diagnose or look for possible upper digestive tract disease. The choice of which and how many tests to perform depend on your history and current problems. Therefore, it may be that you have already had some or all of the alternatives that we will discuss, or that some of these alternatives do not apply to your particular situation.
The alternative tests include:
· Physical exam
· Upper GI series
· CT scan
An upper GI series involves swallowing barium as x-rays are being taken. Barium, which is a harmless liquid, coats the inside of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine so that their shapes show up on a x-ray. It is sometimes used as the first diagnostic tool for studying the upper digestive tract. It is not as reliable as endoscopy in diagnosing inflammatory lesions such as esophagitis, gastritis or small ulcers.
A CT scan is a more specialized type of x-ray that can take a picture of the inside of the digestive tract. Unfortunately, it is not as precise as the barium test or endoscopy in diagnosing most problems involving the lining of the intestinal tract.
These alternatives to upper endoscopy can give general information about problems within the upper digestive tract, but they do not give the in-depth information that an endoscopic exam provides. Endoscopy allows your doctor to directly look at the structures that may be causing your problem, treat them, and take biopsies, if appropriate.
If you have questions for your particular situation, you should discuss the different alternative methods for endoscopy with your doctor, and decide with his or her help which one, if any, is appropriate for you.