An upper endoscopy, often referred to as endoscopy, EGD, or esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy, is a procedure that allows a physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine).
The endoscopy is performed while you lie on your left side. Right before the procedure the physician will give a medication to numb your throat (either a gargle or a spray). A plastic mouth guard is placed between your teeth to prevent damage to your teeth and scope.
The endoscope (also called a gastroscope) is a thin, flexible tube that is passed through the mouth down into your esophagus. The scope has a lens and a light source that allows the physician to see the inner lining of your upper gastrointestinal tract. The scope also blows air into the stomach; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine your stomach. Most people have no difficulty swallowing the flexible gastroscope as a result of the sedating medications. Many people sleep during the test; others are very relaxed and generally not aware of the examination.
The endoscopist may take tissue samples called biopsies (not painful), or perform specific treatments (such as dilation, removal of polyps, treatment of bleeding), depending upon what is found during the examination. The procedure usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete.
Because you will be sedated, you will be observed for one to two hours while the medication wears off. Most patients tolerate endoscopy very well and feel fine afterwards. Some fatigue is common after the examination, and you should plan to take it easy and relax the rest of the day.
Upper GI endoscopy can detect:
Reprinted and modified from The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse