Upper Endoscopy (EGD)
Upper endoscopy (EGD) is a technique by which your physician can examine your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The exam uses a flexible tube with a camera that is inserted into the mouth. The exam is usually done under sedation. Common reasons for the test include evaluation of acid reflux, abdominal pain, ulcers, gastritis, and malabsorption.
What is Upper GI Endoscopy?
The term “endoscopy” refers to the technique for looking into the upper digestive tract by passing a lighted instrument through the mouth. The upper digestive tract is the portion of the gastrointestinal tract that includes the esophagus, the stomach, and the duodenum.
Upper GI endoscopy is a procedure performed by a gastroenterologist, a well-trained subspecialist who uses the endoscope to diagnose and, in some cases, treat problems of the upper digestive system.
The endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope, the gastroenterologist can safely guide the instrument to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper digestive system.
The high quality picture from the endoscope is shown on a TV monitor; it gives a clear, detailed view. Upper GI endoscopy is the most precise method of examining the upper digestive tract.
Upper GI endoscopy can be useful in the evaluation of problems including heartburn, difficulty swallowing, pain in the stomach or abdomen, anemia or bleeding, ulcers, and tumors. Your physician may also recommend this examination for a variety of other problems.
How Endoscopy Works
The endoscopy is inserted in your mouth and gently edged down your esophagus.
The endoscope will be inserted until it reaches your stomach.
Once in the stomach, your doctor will look closely for any problems areas.
If anything suspicious is found, your doctor will take a sample for biopsy.
How Do I Prepare for the Procedure?
Regardless of the reason upper GI endoscopy has been recommended for you, there are a few steps to prepare for the procedure.
Please provide your gastroenterologist with a complete list of all the medicines you are taking and any allergies you have to drugs or other substances. Your medical team will also want to know if you have heart, lung, or other medical conditions that may need special attention before, during, or after upper GI endoscopy. You will be given instructions in advance that will outline what you should and should not do in preparation for the upper GI endoscopy. Be sure to read and follow these instructions. It is important that you should not eat or drink within eight to ten hours before your procedure. Food in the stomach will block the view through the endoscope, and it could cause regurgitation. You cannot drive, make important decisions, or operate machinery the day of the procedure. Someone must accompany you home.
You will be required to sign a consent form prior to the procedure that verifies that you understand the benefits and potential risks of the procedure.
If there is information you do not understand, please discuss this with your gastroenterologist.
What Can You Expect During an Upper GI Endoscopy?
During the procedure, everything will be done to make you comfortable. Your blood pressure, pulse, and the oxygen level in your blood will be carefully monitored. Your gastroenterologist will give you a sedative medication. The medication will make you relaxed and drowsy, and you will likely not recall the examination.
You may also have your throat sprayed with a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed. A supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep your mouth open during the endoscopy. Once you are fully prepared, your doctor will gently maneuver the endoscope into position. The endoscope is slowly and carefully inserted through the mouth. During the procedure, you should feel no pain and it will not interfere with your breathing.
In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample of tissue (biopsy) for examination under the microscope. This is a painless maneuver. In other cases, the endoscope can be used to treat a problem such as active bleeding.
What are the Possible Complications From an Upper GI Endoscopy?
Upper GI endoscopy is a very safe procedure. Complications are very rare. These include perforation, which might require surgical repair, and bleeding, which might require transfusion. Again, these complications are extremely unlikely. Please discuss any specific concerns you may have with your gastroenterologist.
When your endoscopy is completed you’ll be cared for in a recovery area until much of the effects of the medication have worn off.
Your doctor will inform you about the results of the procedure and provide additional information. Some results, such as the results of any biopsies, may take additional time and your physician will ask you to call for these results.
What Can I Expect After My Upper GI Endoscopy?
You will be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal activity.
Occasionally, a minor sore throat may persist. This should disappear in 24 hours or less.
By the time you’re ready to go home, you will feel more alert. Nevertheless, you should rest for the remainder of the day. This means not driving, making important decisions, or operating machinery. You will need to have a family member or friend take you home.