An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that uses an endoscope to view the upper GI tract: the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine. This test may also be referred to as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or a gastroscopy.
An endoscope is a long, thin tube equipped with a light and a viewing instrument that sends images to a monitor. A gastroenterologist may perform an upper endoscopy to look for a number of conditions or diseases in the digestive tract, such as:
Upper endoscopy is helpful in determining the cause of abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, bleeding, swallowing difficulties, gastric reflux, anemia, or unexplained weight loss. It can also be used to obtain a biopsy of abnormal tissue, treat bleeding, and remove polyps or obstructions.
How to Prepare for Upper Endoscopy
You should not eat or drink anything 8 hours prior to the procedure, or after midnight if your appointment is in the morning. Your doctor will let you know if or when you should adjust or stop any medications you take. Because you will be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
What to Expect
You will lie on your left side for the procedure and receive sedation through an IV line to relax you and make you feel drowsy. A mouth guard will be placed to protect your teeth and gums. Your throat may also be numbed with a spray to calm the gag reflex. The doctor will insert the endoscope through the mouth, passing it down through the esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
Air is pumped through the endoscope to inflate the stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see. A small camera mounted on the endoscope transmits live images to a video monitor. Special instruments may be inserted through the endoscope to obtain tissue samples, stop bleeding, or remove abnormal growths.
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room while the sedative wears off. You may experience temporary discomfort, such as bloating, nausea, gagging, belching, or sore throat. Your doctor will discuss any unexpected side effects that may occur and a plan to address them.
Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, you may immediately resume your normal diet and medications.
If results are immediately available, your doctor will review them with you in the recovery room; otherwise you will need to make a follow-up appointment. It may take a few days to receive biopsy results. If any abnormal results were found by your test, your doctor will discuss treatment plan options with you.
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