An upper endoscopy, also known as a esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), is a procedure used to determine the cause of gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms including heartburn, Barrett’s esophagus, the presence of hiatal hernias, the cause of abdominal pain, unexplained anemia, and the cause of swallowing difficulties, upper GI bleeding, and the presence of tumors or ulcers. An upper endoscopy lets you doctor examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine).
This procedure is the best option for a physician to determine the cause of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, and it is also more accurate than an x-ray for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Your doctor might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue sample) to distinguish between benign and malignant (cancerous) tissue.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions to prepare for your upper endoscopy. Generally, because an empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, you will be instructed to not eat or drink, with the exception of water, for approximately six hours before your procedure.
You will lie on your left side, and an intravenous (IV) sedation is used during an upper endoscopy. Once the sedation takes effect your doctor will pass a lighted, flexible endoscope into your mouth. A plastic mouth guard is usually used to protect the endoscope from your teeth. A tiny camera at the tip of the endoscope will transmit images to a monitor for your physician to view. If your physician is using tools to obtain a biopsy, he/she will use the monitor to guide the instruments used.
At the end of the exam, the endoscope is slowly withdrawn. The procedure takes about 5 – 20 minutes, depending on why the test is being performed and what your physician finds.
Immediately following an upper endoscopy, your nurse will take you to the recovery area, where you will spend some time resting while the sedation medication wears off. You will need someone to drive you home because it can take up to a day for the full effects of the sedative to wear off. You should be able to resume normal activity the next day.
Once home, some patients report symptoms of bloating, cramping or a sore throat, but these symptoms should be mild and improve with time. Contact your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.
What are the Outcomes with Upper Endoscopy?
The time frame it will take for you to receive results from your upper endoscopy will be determined by your situation. If a tissue sample was collected, it may take one to two weeks for the pathologist to return your results to your physician. Your physician will contact you to confirm the results as soon as they are available. Ask your doctor when you can expect to receive your results.