Upper GI Endoscopy

Upper GI endoscopy is examination of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. It is also known as EGD (esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy). There are many reasons for which an EGD is performed. Here are some of the more common indications of an EGD:

• Evaluation of the cause of difficult swallowing
• Evaluation of the cause of painful swallowing
• Evaluation of the condition of the esophagus in someone with frequent heartburn to rule out the possibility of esophagitis “inflammation of the esophagus” or Barrett’s esophagus
• Evaluation of the cause of abdominal pain, especially in the upper abdomen
• Evaluation of the cause of black tarry stools, as this may be a sign of upper GI bleeding
• Evaluation of the cause of vomiting blood
• Evaluation of the cause of anemia
• Evaluation of the cause of weight loss

EGD Preparation Instructions

The procedure may be also used to treat some of the above mentioned conditions. For example, an esophageal stricture may be dilated thus alleviating the swallowing difficulty. Also, if the source of bleeding is an ulcer with an exposed blood vessel, the blood vessel may be cauterized and bleeding may be controlled.

In preparation for the EGD, you need to fast for at least 8 (eight) hours before the examination is performed. Also, please read the section titled “An Overview of Endoscopy” above.

EGD is usually performed on outpatient basis. When you check into the endoscopy unit, a nurse will place an intravenous line. You will be given intravenous fluids. In the procedure room, the doctor or the assisting nurse will give you intravenous sedative medications. We usually use Versed and Fentanyl as a combination. Some doctors may spray the back of the mouth with a numbing medicine to help weaken the gag reflex. You will be asked to sleep on you left side. The doctor will introduce the scope through you mouth all the way down to the duodenum. Biopsies may be taken if needed.

The examination typically lasts for 5-10 minutes unless some therapeutic intervention is needed. You will be then taken to the recovery room where you will spend approximately 30 minutes before you are allowed to go home. Overall, you will spend approximately one and half to two hours in the endoscopy unit.

An EGD is a very safe procedure. There is a small risk of complications however. As listed above, the possible complications are bleeding, perforation, infection, allergy or unexpected reaction to the medications used during the procedure.

You will be given a printed report at the conclusion of the procedure. If you are reasonably awake, your doctor will discuss the procedure findings with you. You are encouraged to schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor at his or her office to further discuss the results of the procedure.