Thumbnail image of: Digestive System: Illustration

Upper GI EGD Exam

What is an upper GI EGD Exam?

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

Your healthcare provider will use a slim, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope. The endoscope has a camera on one end so that your provider can see the areas that need to be examined.

When is it used?

An EGD may be done if you have ongoing or unexplained:

  • Problems swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (vomiting blood or passing blood in bowel movements)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal findings on gastrointestinal X-rays

This procedure helps your healthcare provider make a more accurate diagnosis.

Instead of this procedure, other treatments or procedures may include:

  • Barium swallow and upper GI series, which is an X-ray taken of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small bowel (duodenum) after you swallow barium
  • Barium enema, which is an X-ray taken of your belly after a special dye is inserted through your rectum to show the walls of the large intestine (colon) and any possible problems
  • Taking medicine for your symptoms without knowing what is causing the problem

You may choose not to have treatment. Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure.
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Tell your provider about all medicines and supplements that you take.
  • Your provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what the healthcare provider is going to do and how long it will take you to recover.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure will be done at the hospital or surgery center.

You will be given medicine that numbs your throat to keep you from gagging during the procedure. You will also be given a medicine to help you relax, but you may be awake during the test. You will be placed on your left side. Your healthcare provider will insert the endoscope into your mouth and down your food pipe (esophagus). You may have a sensation of gas, and you may feel some pressure from the scope in the stomach.

Your provider will look for problems like irritation, infections, ulcers, or abnormal growths. These areas may be photographed. Your provider may also take tissue samples or remove growths. You will not feel pain when samples of tissue are removed. Tissue that is removed will be sent to the lab to be examined under a microscope. When your provider is done with the exam, the tube will be removed. The procedure will take about 30 to 45 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

You will be in a recovery room for about an hour and then you can go home. Don’t 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 4 to 6 hours or longer.

You may have a mild sore throat after the procedure. You may keep feeling the same discomfort or symptoms that you had before the procedure.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.
  • Your throat, stomach, or intestine may get torn. If this happens, you may need surgery.

Ask your healthcare provider how the risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-02
Last reviewed: 2014-01-30
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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