What is Upper Endoscopy?
Upper endoscopy or EGD (esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy) is a procedure where a physician uses a flexible, thin tube with a camera and a light source to examine the inner lining of a patient’s upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine).
Why is Upper Endoscopy Done?
Upper endoscopy is performed to evaluate causes of upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing, or symptoms of indigestion (belching, heartburn, bloating, or upset stomach associated with eating). The test is also often performed to evaluate for causes of unexplained weight loss or anemia. It is the preferred test to evaluate upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Upper endoscopy can find problems in the upper gastrointestinal tract such as ulcers, abnormal growths, polyps, inflammation, or hiatal hernia.
Upper endoscopy can also be used to obtain tissue specimens (biopsies). It can also be used to treat problems of the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as removing foreign bodies or food stuck in the esophagus, stretch narrowed segments (strictures) or stop bleeding spots (such as bleeding ulcer).
How Does One Prepare for Upper Endoscopy?
In order to achieve accurate results, you must have an empty stomach before the procedure. You should not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before an upper endoscopy. Tell your doctor about any conditions or medications you take and he or she will instruct you on how to prepare.
How is Upper Endoscopy Performed?
An upper endoscopy is used to determine the cause of symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, internal bleeding and swallowing disorders. It is frequently used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, tumors, and the presence of H. pylori infection in the stomach.
What Happens After the Upper Endoscopy is Done?
After the upper endoscopy, patients are moved to a recovery room where they wait about an hour for the sedative to wear off. During this time, patients may feel bloated or nauseated. They may also have a sore throat, which can stay for a day or two. Patients will likely feel tired and should plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Unless otherwise directed, patients may immediately resume their normal diet and medications.
Some results from upper GI endoscopy are available immediately after the procedure. The doctor will often share results with the patient after the sedative has worn off. Biopsy results are usually ready in one to two weeks.
What are the Risks Associated with Upper Endoscopy?
Overall, the risks associated with upper endoscopy are very low. Bleeding can occur from a biopsy or removal of a polyp or growth from the upper endoscopy, but such bleeding often stops on its own or can be controlled through the endoscopy. Perforation (a hole or a deep tear in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract) may require surgery, but this is a very uncommon complication. Other risks involve complications related to the anesthetics and sedatives (breathing difficulties, aspiration) or complications related to heart and lung disease.