Upper Endoscopy

Upper endoscopy is a way to inspect the esophagus, stomach, and first portion of the small intestine (duodenum). The procedure is also called an EGD, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy, to more precisely identify the three areas it inspects. A Northwest Gastroenterology provider may recommend upper endoscopy for patients with swallowing disorders, chronic heartburn, upper abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, diarrhea, iron-deficiency anemia, unintentional weight loss, or other upper gastrointestinal issues.

What to Expect

Prior to the procedure, the patient is attached to monitors so the physician and nurse can observe heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level; provided with a plastic mouthpiece to protect the teeth; and sedated (with IV medications) to allow insertion of the scope over the tongue and into the esophagus. The steerable scope has a light source, suction channel, and biopsy channel, the last of which can also be used to infuse water to clean the stomach.

During the procedure, a biopsy forceps may be inserted to take tissue samples, a catheter may be inserted to collect fluid from the small intestine, or a dilator may be inserted to stretch a narrowing in the esophagus. The entire process generally takes approximately 20 minutes. The sedative medications can affect memory for a short period, so it is not unusual to have no recollection of the procedure or talking with the physician afterwards.

You are not allowed to drive for the remainder of your procedure day, so you will need a licensed driver over age 18 to drive you home.

How to Prepare

Unlike colonoscopy, there is no special preparation for the procedure, though you will need to avoid food for a designated time (generally 6-12 hours) prior to the procedure. In addition, you cannot take anything by mouth for 2 hours prior to the procedure.

If you have not already done so, you should review the Colonoscopy, Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, and Upper Endoscopy/EGD Consent. You can also watch an overview of an upper endoscopy on our Videos page.