After careful medical assessment your doctor has recommended that you have an upper endoscopy. Upper endoscopy enables the physician to look inside the esophagus (food tube), stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain or chest pain. Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy ( eh-SAH-fuhgohGas-troh-doo-Ah-duh-NAH-skuh-pee).
You will be asked to sign a consent form authorizing the doctor to perform the procedure. Please inform the Physician or GI nurse of any allergies to medications. It is helpful if you bring a list of your medication that you take daily including over the counter drugs. An intravenous (IV) will be started for the purpose of giving medications that will make you sleepy and relaxed for the procedure.
For the procedure you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope (EN-doh-skope). Your doctor or GI nurse will spray your throat with a topical anesthetic or numbing medicine. In addition, you will also most likely receive a certain amount of conscious IV sedation to help you relax during the exam. You will lie on your left side and the physician will place a small mouthpiece between your teeth. You will be able to breathe normally. The doctor will then help you to swallow the flexible endoscope. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach: this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
The physician can see abnormalities, like ulcers, through the endoscope that do not show up well on x-rays. A biopsy specimen (tiny piece of tissue) may be taken for microscopic examination. You will not feel any sensation of discomfort when the biopsy is performed.
Bleeding or puncture of the esophagus or stomach lining are possible complications of upper endoscopy. These complications should be discussed with your physician. However, such complications are very uncommon.
The procedure takes 5 to 20 minutes. Many people not recall any of the procedure because of the effect of the medication. After the procedure, you will probably feel drowsy and may sleep for a short time.
Before you leave the doctor will discuss the finding (if any) with you. The GI nurse will give you written instructions to follow when you get home. Also you MUST arrange for someone to take you home afterward - you will not be allowed to drive or leave on your own via taxi cab or bus because of the sedatives.
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight (or follow your physician's specific instructions).
Reference: Society of Gastroenterology Nurse and Associates, Upper Endoscopy brochure and Guide for Patients prepared by National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House.
Phelps Medical Associates - Gastroenterology