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Patient Education

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

What is an upper endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy is a procedure that allows a gastroenterologist to visually examine the upper digestive system.  A long, flexible tube with a small camera on the end called an endoscope helps the doctor to diagnose and treat conditions in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy is the medical term for the upper endoscopy procedure.  EGD is the most common abbreviation.

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

Why is it done?

The three main reasons doctors perform upper endoscopies include evaluating symptoms, diagnosing conditions, and treating conditions in the upper GI tract.

Upper Endoscopy EGD
Digestive Tract (click to enlarge)

Evaluating Symptoms –  This examination is more accurate than other imaging techniques (like an x-ray) and helps your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms.  Your doctor may use an upper endoscopy to evaluate signs or symptoms including:

Diagnosing Conditions

During an upper endoscopy, doctors will look for inflammation, tumors, ulcers, and other abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.  Doctors may also collect small tissue samples (biopsies) during the procedure. These samples are sent for lab analysis and can help diagnose anemia, bleeding, inflammation, diarrhea, H. pylori, and upper GI cancers.

Treating GI Conditions

The device used by gastroenterologists during an EGD is called an endoscope.  The endoscope can be equipped with small, specialized tools to treat problems in the digestive system.   This includes removing foreign objects, widening a narrow esophagus, or removing polyps.

Preparing for an Upper Endoscopy

Your doctor must have a clear view of the upper GI tract, so you will be advised not to eat anything after midnight the night before your procedure.  You will also need to stop drinking water at least 3 hours prior to your arrival time. You may not chew gum or tobacco.

Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice on medications prior to an upper endoscopy, especially if you take blood-thinning medication.

Because light sedation will be used, you will need to bring someone with you that can safely drive you home. Patients are not allowed to take taxis, Uber/Lyft, or public transportation.

What To Expect

You will be asked to lie down on your back or side.  Sensors will be attached to your body that allows the procedure team to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

You will receive sedation that helps you relax for the procedure. Your doctor may use an anesthetic to numb parts of your mouth.

Next, the doctor will slowly insert the endoscope into your mouth and down your throat.  He or she may ask you to swallow during insertion to help the process. You may feel some pressure during the procedure but you shouldn’t feel pain.

After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room where your health team can monitor you while the sedation wears off.

You may have mild bloating or gas, cramping, or a sore throat after an upper endoscopy.  If you’re in pain or concerned about your symptoms after the procedure, please call your doctor.


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