Thumbnail image of: Digestive System: Illustration

Endoscopy, Upper Gastrointestinal (GI)

What is an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy?

An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, also called an EGD, is an exam of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract with a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope. The upper GI tract includes the throat, esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

This procedure may be done if you have:

  • Problems swallowing
  • Repeated heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal findings on gastrointestinal X-rays

How is the test done?

Before the test:

  • Your healthcare provider will ask you to sign a consent form for an EGD. The consent form will state the reason you are having the test, what happens during the test, and what you may expect afterward.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the test. Food and drink before the test will affect the results.
  • Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicines.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any medicines, including nonprescription drugs, herbal remedies, or illegal drugs (if any).
  • You may have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow for medicine to be given into your blood system and to give you fluids, if needed.

During the test:

  • You may be given medicine to help you to relax. The medicine can make you drowsy or you may fall asleep before the test.
  • You will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep you from feeling pain, numb the back of your throat, and help avoid gagging.
  • Your healthcare provider will insert a thin, flexible tube through your mouth and down your esophagus. You may have a sensation of gas, and you may feel some pressure from the scope in the stomach. Your provider looks for abnormalities, irritation, ulcers, growths or infection in your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
  • Pictures may be taken of abnormal areas. If any growths or ulcers are found, your provider may take tissue samples (biopsies) for lab tests. Your provider may be able to completely remove some of the abnormal growths with the biopsies. You will not feel the biopsies.
  • The tube is removed when the examination is done.

After the test:

  • You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or several days, depending on your condition and your test results.
  • While you are in the hospital, you will be checked often by nursing staff.
  • You may have a mild sore throat after this procedure. In rare cases, complications may occur. These may include:
    • An allergic reaction to a drug used in this type of anesthesia
    • Tearing of the throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestine
    • Infection or bleeding
  • If you are discharged from the hospital after your procedure:
    • Someone must drive you home.
    • Do not do anything that requires you to be fully alert or have a quick response time, like driving or operating machinery, until you are fully awake and alert. This may take as long as 4 to 6 hours or longer.

What can I do to help?

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have new or worsening:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Pain in your belly
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Black, tarry bowel movements
  • Fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)

What does the test result mean?

This test is only one part of a larger picture that includes your medical history and current health. Your provider will use your test results to make a plan for your care. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result. Ask questions about anything you do not understand.

If your test results are not normal, ask your healthcare provider:

  • If you need additional tests
  • If or when you need to be tested again
  • If you need treatment, and if so what your treatment plan choices are
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-02-03
Last reviewed: 2014-11-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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