What is Upper Endoscopy/EGD?

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD, is an endoscopic examination of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the uppermost part of the small intestine) for hiatal hernias, ulcers, bleeding sources, tumors or other problems. The procedure can also offer a number of therapeutic interventions such as control of bleeding, manometry or dilation. The procedure’s medical name is actually a combination of names of three different procedures that are usually performed collectively:

  • Esophagoscopy: Looking inside the esophagus for hiatal hernias, polyps, strictures, etc.
  • Gastroscopy: Looking inside the stomach for ulcers, polyps, inflammation, etc.
  • Duodenoscopy: Looking inside the duodenum for inflammation or ulcers.

Your Gastroenterologist may perform an EGD if you have any of the following: difficulty swallowing, black or bloody stools, vomiting blood, upper abdominal pain, unexplained chest pain, heartburn/acid reflux, nausea and/or vomiting.

What Happens During an Upper Endoscopy/EGD Procedure?

After the patient is adequately sedated, a flexible device called an endoscope is inserted into their throat and guided downward through the gastrointestinal tract, all the way to the duodenum. There is a small fiber-optic light and camera attached to the endoscope’s tip, which gives the doctor a view of the inner lining of the GI tract while the endoscope passes through.

The entire process takes no more than 20 minutes. This is a safe and typically painless procedure.

How Do I Prepare for an Upper Endoscopy/EGD?

Your upper GI tract—the esophagus, stomach and duodenum—must be empty if you want the EGD to produce accurate results. Food remaining in the tract can get in the way of the doctor’s examination and can look like something suspicious. To empty your upper GI tract, simply stop eating food and drinking beverages for 8 to 12 hours before the EGD. Also note, that you will not be able to eat or drink anything for a couple of hours after the EGD as well, because if you eat while sedated you might choke without feeling or noticing it.