What is an upper endoscopy (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy- EGD)?

Upper endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine). Your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, and will view the images on a video monitor.

What is an upper endoscopy needed?

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Upper Endoscopy

Upper endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate symptoms of upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It's the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It is also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Your doctor might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). A biopsy helps your doctor distinguish between benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Remember, biopsies are taken for many reasons, and your doctor may take a biopsy even if he or she does not suspect cancer. For example, your doctor might use a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers. Your doctor can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities - this will cause you little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor might stretch (dilate) a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding

What is the preparation for an upper endoscopy?

An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination. Your doctor will tell you when you should start fasting based on the date/time; usually midnight the day of your upper endoscopy. Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take including; aspirin products or antiplatelet agents, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin), clopidogrel, insulin or iron products. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.

What happens during an upper endoscopy?

The doctor will have you lie on your side and the anesthesiologist/CRNA will give you gentle sedation. The doctor will then pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn't interfere with your breathing. The procedure takes about 10 minutes.

You will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel bloated because of the air introduced into your stomach during the test. You will be able to eat after you leave unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you'll probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed. A driver will be needed to drive you home. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.

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What are the possible complications of an upper endoscopy?

Our doctors are board-certified gastroenterologists who are specially trained and have performed thousands of these procedures. Although complications can occur, they are extremely rare. Bleeding can occur at a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed, but it's usually minimal and rarely requires follow-up. Perforation (a hole or tear in the gastrointestinal tract lining) may require surgery but this is a very uncommon complication. Some patients might have a reaction to the sedatives or complications from heart or lung disease.

 

Although complications after upper endoscopy are very uncommon, it's important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever after the test or if you notice trouble swallowing or increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, or bleeding, including black stools. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure.

If you have any concerns about a possible complication, it is always best to contact your doctor right away.

Important Reminder: This information is intended only to provide general guidance. It does not provide definitive medical advice. It is very important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition.

Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 11,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education.

This patient education brochure was developed by the Publications Committee of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. This information is the opinion of and provided by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy www.asge.org and www.screen4coloncancer.org

Copyright ©2010. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. All rights reserved. This information may not be reproduced without express written permission by ASGE. For permission requests, please contact the ASGE Communications Department at 630-673-0600.

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