Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD)
What is an Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD)?
Upper GI endoscopy (EGD) lets a physician examine the lining of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The procedure helps doctors evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing.
Upper GI endoscopy is an excellent test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It's also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to an upper GI endoscopy as an EGD, upper endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), or panendoscopy. Feel free to ask your doctor about anything you don't understand.
Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD) Procedure
During the procedure, your physician will use a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, to view the images on a video monitor.
Your doctor may start by spraying your throat with a local anesthetic, or by giving you a sedative to help you relax. Lying on your side, your doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn't interfere with your breathing. Most patients consider the test only slightly uncomfortable, and many patients fall asleep during the procedure.
After the procedure concludes, you will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. If you received sedatives, you won't be allowed to drive after the procedure even though you might not feel tired. You should arrange for someone to accompany you home because the sedatives might affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day.
Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel bloated because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test. Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, you will be able to eat after you leave. Generally, your doctor can tell you the results of the test on the day of the procedure. However, some test results may take several days.
During an upper GI endoscopy, your doctor might want to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). A biopsy helps your doctor distinguish between benign and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Remember, biopsies are taken for many reasons, and your doctor might order one even if he or she does not suspect cancer.
H Pylori (Bacterial Overgrowth) Test
Your doctor may wish to test for H pylori (heliobacter pylori), a bacterium that causes ulcers.
Polypectomy & More
The opportunity may also be used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract—to stretch a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths), or treat bleeding. Your doctor can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities with little or no discomfort.
Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD) Risks
Upper GI endoscopy is a generally safe procedure when performed by specially trained and experienced doctors. Possible complications include:
- A perforation or tear in the gastrointestinal tract lining could occur, which then may require surgery.
- Minor bleeding at the site of a biopsy or polypectomy, which may stop on its own or be controlled through the endoscope, both rarely requiring follow-up treatment.
- A reaction to the sedatives.
- Complications from heart or lung disease
Although complications after an upper GI endoscopy are uncommon, it's important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Increasing throat, chest, or abdominal pain
Upper GI Endoscopy Preparation
An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately six hours before the examination. Your doctor will tell you when to start fasting. Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take; you might need to adjust your usual dose for the examination. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease. Also, alert your doctor if you require antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures, because you might need antibiotics prior to upper endoscopy as well.
Can I drink alcoholic beverages?
Do not drink any alcoholic beverages prior to your procedure, since they can cause dehydration.
Can I brush my teeth?
Yes, feel free to brush your teeth.
Can I wear my dentures?
Yes, you may wear your dentures. However, you may be asked to remove them prior to the procedure.
Why do I have to stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications and blood thinners prior to the procedure?
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can reduce the body’s ability to form blood clots. Taking them prior to a colonoscopy procedure may increase the risk of bleeding if a polyp needs to be removed. The decision to stop any medication is always based on an estimate of the risk of having a significant medical problem during the short time that you are off of them compared to the risk of bleeding complications from the procedure.
Please speak with your physician if you are taking:
- Aspirin/ecotrin for a specific medical problem
What can I take for headaches and pain relief?
You may take Tylenol.