Upper GI Endoscopy

Upper GI Endoscopy

(Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Esophagogastroduodenoscopy [EGD])

Click here to view an animated version of this test.

Definition

An upper GI endoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to see inside the throat, esophagus, and stomach. The upper part of the small intestines may also be examined. It is done with a flexible tube called an endoscope.

Upper GI Endoscopy

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Reasons for Test

This procedure is done to help diagnose the causes of:

  • Unexplained belly pain
  • Severe heartburn
  • Lasting nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Blood in stool or vomit
  • Abnormal x-ray or other tests of the digestive tract

An upper GI endoscopy may also be done to look for:

  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Abnormal narrowing
  • Inflammation

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Damage to the esophagus, stomach, or intestine

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to test

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure

Anesthesia

The doctor will give:

  • Medicine to numb the throat
  • A sedative—you will feel relaxed

Description of the Test

The endoscope will be put into the mouth. It will be passed through the esophagus and stomach until it reaches the small intestine. Images will be seen on a nearby monitor. Air may be passed through the scope. This helps the doctor view the area.

If needed, tiny tools may be passed through the endoscope. They can be used to take a sample of tissue for testing or do other procedures.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10 to 15 minutes

Will It Hurt?

Throat pain and bloating are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

Most people can go home the same day. If other procedures were done during the upper GI endoscopy, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

The staff may give you something to eat and drink.

At Home

It will take a few hours to recover. Most can resume their diet.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Severe belly pain
  • Hard, swollen belly
  • Black, tar-like stools or bloody stools
  • Vomiting blood
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
https://www.asge.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Understanding upper endoscopy. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website. Available at: https://www.asge.org/list-pages/patient-informations/understanding-upper-endoscopy. Accessed February 12, 2021.
Upper endoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/upper-endoscopy. Accessed Februry 12, 2021.
Upper GI endoscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/upper-gi-endoscopy. Accessed February 12, 2021.
Volkan B, Bayrak NA, et al. Preparatory information reduces gastroscopy-related stress in children as confirmed by salivary cortisol. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2019;25(4):262-267.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated: 02/12/2021

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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