Upper GI Endoscopy
(Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Esophagogastroduodenoscopy [EGD])
to view an animated version of this test.
An upper GI endoscopy is a test that uses a fiberoptic scope to examine the esophagus, throat, stomach, and upper part of the small intestines.
|Upper GI Endoscopy
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Reasons for Test
Upper GI endoscopy may be recommended if you have:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blood in stool or vomit
or other examinations of the gastrointestinal tract
Conditions that can be diagnosed with upper GI endoscopy include:
- Abnormal narrowing
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Damage to the esophagus, stomach, or intestine, including perforation
- Reduced breathing rate and/or depth
- Reaction to sedatives or anesthesia
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Increasing age, especially age 60 and older
alcohol use disorder,
or drug use
- Recent illness
- Heart or lung problems
- Bleeding disorders
- Use of certain medications
What to Expect
Prior to test
Leading up to the test:
- Your doctor may instruct you to take antibiotics.
- Arrange for a ride home after the test. Also, arrange for help at home.
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything for 6-10 hours before the test.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
Description of the Test
To numb your throat, you may be given an anesthetic solution to gargle. Or, your throat may be sprayed with a numbing medication. You may be given a sedative through an IV. This is to help you relax during the test.
You may be asked to lie on your left side. You will have monitors tracking your breathing, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. If sedation is used, you will be given supplemental oxygen to breathe through your nose.
A mouthpiece will be positioned to help keep your mouth open. During the test, a small suction tube will be used to clear saliva and fluids from your mouth. The endoscope will be lubricated and placed in your mouth. You will be asked to try to swallow it. Then, it will be carefully and slowly advanced down your throat. It will be passed through your esophagus and into your stomach and intestine.
While the endoscope is being advanced, your doctor will view the images on the screen. Air may be passed through the endoscope into your digestive tract. This will be done to smooth the normal folds in the tissues, allowing your doctor to view the tract more easily. Tiny tools may be passed through the endoscope in order to take
or do other tests.
After the test, you will be observed for an hour. Then, you will be allowed to go home.
For the rest of the day:
- Do not drive or use machinery for the rest of the day.
- Do not make any life-changing decisions or sign legal documents.
- Avoid alcohol for the rest of the day.
How Long Will It Take?
About 10-15 minutes
Will It Hurt?
Yes, you will have discomfort during the test. Your throat will be sore. Also, you may feel bloated after the test.
This test gives your doctor information about the health of your digestive system. The results can help to explain your symptoms. You and your doctor will talk about the results and your treatment plan.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Severe abdominal pain
- Hard, swollen abdomen
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Any change or increase in your original symptoms
- Bloody or black tarry colored stools
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Davila M, Keeffe E. Complications of Upper Endoscopy.
In: Feldman M, Friedman L, Sleisenger M.
Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2002:539-543.
Understanding upper endoscopy. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website.
https://www.asge.org/list-pages/patient-informations/understanding-upper-endoscopy. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Upper GI endoscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website.
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/upper-gi-endoscopy. Updated July 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
- Update Date: