Upper Endoscopy Procedure
An upper endoscopy procedure enable the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy (eh-SAH-fuh-goh-GAS-troh-doo-AH-duh-NAH-skuh-pee). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or chest pain. Stomach ulcers, hiatal hernia, celiac disease, and complications from acid reflux are typically diagnosed during an upper endoscopy as well.
At the outset of the procedure, a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope (EN-doh-skope) will be passed through your mouth down into your esophagus. Right before the procedure the physician may spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging.
You will also receive a pain medicine and a sedative intravenously to help you relax during the exam. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
The physician can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, through the endoscope that don’t show up well on x-rays. The physician can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests.
Possible complications of an upper endoscopy procedure include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining. However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the endoscopy procedure.
The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for 1 to 2 hours until the medication wears off.
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the endoscopy procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours beforehand. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home—you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions.
Reprinted and modified from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.