Upper GI Endoscopy

Upper GI Endoscopy

What is upper GI endoscopy?

Upper GI endoscopy, otherwise known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a video examination of the upper third of the GI tract.  Using a flexible scope with a camera and bright light at the end, your physician will guide the instrument through your mouth and into your GI tract.  Images are displayed on a video monitor your doctor watches throughout the exam.  Your physician will be able to evaluate multiple organs including your esophagus (esophago-), stomach (gastro-) and early portion of your small bowel, known as the duodenum (duodeno-).  Tissue biopsies, stretching of tissue narrowings, laser and heat treatments, and medication administration can be accomplished through the scope.  The examination should be performed by a board certified Gastroenterologist, who has extensive training in management of digestive system diseases.

Why should I have upper GI endoscopy?

There are many reasons why your physician may recommend upper GI endoscopy.  The most common reasons include long-standing GERD (acid reflux disease), difficulty swallowing, nausea with or without vomiting, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, abdominal pain, chest pain, suspected celiac sprue disease, loss of appetite or weight loss.  Your doctor will help you to determine if upper GI endoscopy is right for you.

What should I expect the day of my upper GI endoscopy?

Most procedures are outpatient, so patients should plan to spend about 2 hours for their examination and plan to return home afterward.  On the day of the procedure, you will be asked not to consume food or beverages for 6 hours prior to your exam.  Discuss routine medication use with your physician or endoscopy staff.  Patients using coumadin and insulin require special instruction.  An IV will be placed to administer sedation medication for the examination.  You must have a driver to assist you home after the procedure and we ask that you avoid alcohol the rest of the day.  For complete preparation instructions visit our Preparation instructions page.

Upper GI endoscopy is a very safe procedure, but risks do exist.  The most common side effect from the procedure is redness at the IV site.  Less common side effects include adverse reactions to the sedation medications, bleeding from a biopsy site, infection, and perforation.  Perforation is a tear in the lining of the digestive tract and can be very dangerous, necessitating hospitalization, antibiotics, and sometimes surgery.

Other options for evaluation of your upper GI tract do exist.  Your physician may requests laboratory testing, barium swallow tests, ultrasound, CT scan, esophageal manometry or 24-hour esophageal pH testing in addition to or in place of upper GI endoscopy.  Discuss these options with your Gastroenterologist.

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