Upper GI endoscopy is a procedure that uses a lighted, flexible endoscope to see inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
What problems can upper GI endoscopy detect?
Upper GI endoscopy can detect
- abnormal growths
- precancerous conditions
- bowel obstruction
- hiatal hernia
When is upper GI endoscopy used?
Upper GI endoscopy can be used to determine the cause of
- abdominal pain
- swallowing difficulties
- gastric reflux
- unexplained weight loss
- bleeding in the upper GI tract
Upper GI endoscopy can be used to remove stuck objects, including food, and to treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers. It can also be used to biopsy tissue in the upper GI tract. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed for later examination with a microscope.
How is upper GI endoscopy performed?
Upper GI endoscopy is conducted at a hospital or outpatient center.
Patients may receive a local, liquid anesthetic that is gargled or sprayed on the back of the throat. The anesthetic numbs the throat and calms the gag reflex. An intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in the arm if a sedative will be given. Sedatives help patients stay relaxed and comfortable. While patients are sedated, the doctor and medical staff monitor vital signs.
During the procedure, patients lie on their back or side on an examination table. An endoscope is carefully fed down the esophagus and into the stomach and duodenum. A small camera mounted on the endoscope transmits a video image to a video monitor, allowing close examination of the intestinal lining. Air is pumped through the endoscope to inflate the stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see. Special tools that slide through the endoscope allow the doctor to perform biopsies, stop bleeding, and remove abnormal growths.
Recovery from Upper GI Endoscopy
After upper GI 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 a few days.
What are the risks associated with upper GI endoscopy?
Risks associated with upper GI endoscopy include
- abnormal reaction to sedatives
- bleeding from biopsy
- accidental puncture of the upper GI tract
Patients who experience any of the following rare symptoms after upper GI endoscopy should contact their doctor immediately:
- swallowing difficulties
- throat, chest, and abdominal pain that worsens
- bloody or very dark stool
Reprinted and modified from the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse.
Watch the video of the EGD presented by American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.