What is an Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD)?
Upper GI Endoscopy, sometimes called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), is a test that is used to evaluate the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. An endoscope is a long tube which is a highly advanced digital way of sending the image to a television screen. An endoscopy allows the doctor to identify and/or correct a problem in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Such problems include: polyps (abnormal growths), ulcers (which can develop in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum), tumors of the stomach or esophagus, intestinal bleeding, esophagitis (chronic inflammation of the esophagus due to reflux of stomach acid and digestive juices), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), and other problems affecting the upper GI tract.
How do I prepare for the test?
Good preparation for this test is the key to getting the most accurate result. When you meet with your doctor prior to the procedure, review all of your medical problems, medications, and symptoms. You MUST follow the following diet and preparation instructions exactly.
Do not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to the procedure. Do not wear lipstick and remove nail polish. You should take all your morning medications, especially heart, blood pressure, and diabetic medications, up to 2 hours prior to the procedure with a small amount of water. If you are taking insulin, use only ½ the usual dose on the morning of the test. If you have asthma and are using a pump, make sure you use it on the morning of the test as well. Stop Coumadin 3 days prior to the procedure. Arrange for a friend or family member to take you home after the test.
What happens during the procedure?
Before the procedure begins, every measure is taken to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. An intravenous line, or IV, will be placed for the administration of medication. The medication given to you through the IV will make you relaxed and drowsy, and prevent you from remembering the procedure. The throat may be coated with a topical anesthetic to suppress the gag reflex. A mouthpiece is placed between the teeth to prevent damage to the scope. As you swallow, the endoscope is guided through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The doctor is able to see the inside of these areas on a monitor. On average the procedure lasts between 6 to 10 minutes.
Afterward, you will be taken to a recovery area until the drowsy effects of the medication have worn off. Then you will be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal routine. You may experience belching and/or flatulence (gas) for the next 24 hours. Some throat discomfort is also possible.
What are the possible complications?
Upper GI Endoscopy is a very safe procedure, and complications are uncommon. One possible complication is excessive bleeding, which can be quite serious. Bleeding may occur after removal of a polyp. In extremely rare cases, a perforation, or tear, in the esophagus or stomach wall can occur. This requires hospitalization and possibly surgery.
After the test
After the procedure you should plan to relax for the remainder of the day. You will not be allowed to drive yourself home, so arrange for a friend or family member to take you home. Occasionally, minor problems may persist such as sore throat, bloating, gas, or mild cramping, which should disappear in 24 hours or less. The results generally take a few days to a week or more to come back. Generally, we prefer that you visit the office about one week after the procedure so that results can be discussed in person, all the questions can be answered to your satisfaction and proper treatment and medication can be provided.