Overview: The Basics
Also called an EGD or gastroscopy, an upper endoscopy uses a thin scope with a light and camera at its tip, called an endoscope, to look inside the upper digestive system of the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine (called the duodenum). The endoscope is passed through the mouth and down the throat to the esophagus. It may also have a small biopsy instrument to remove tissue that is then checked under a microscope for abnormalities.
What to Expect: During the Screening
You will be given a sedative, and a local anesthetic may be sprayed into your mouth to suppress the gag reflex when the endoscope is inserted. A mouth guard will be inserted to protect your teeth as well as the endoscope. Dentures and other dental appliances will have to be removed.
In most cases, an intravenous line will be inserted into the arm to administer the sedation and any medications that might be needed. You will lie on your left side and after the sedative has taken effect, the endoscope will be gently guided through the esophagus to the stomach and the duodenum. Air will be introduced through the endoscope to enhance viewing. The lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine is examined, and biopsies can be performed at the same time.
After the test is complete, food and liquids will be restricted to prevent choking until the anesthetic wears off and the gag reflex returns.
While the test will only last 10 – 20 minutes, you may feel gassy or bloated afterwards. Due to the sedation, you will likely not feel any discomfort and have little recollection of having the procedure completed.
What can be found?
An upper endoscopy can help determine causes for heartburn, the presence of hiatal hernias, the cause of abdominal pain, unexplained anemia, and the cause of swallowing difficulties, upper GI bleeding, and the presence of tumors or ulcers.
How to Prepare
The stomach must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so please do not ingest any foods or liquids 12 hours before the exam. You may also be told to stop aspirin and other blood-thinning medications for several days before the test. You should also arrange for someone to take you home because of the sedation during the procedure. Any further instruction will be given to you by your physician.