An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at the inside lining of your esophagus, your stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum ). A thin, flexible viewing tool called an endoscope (scope) is used.
What is an Upper Endoscopy?
An upper endoscopy, also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), 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. An endoscope is passed through the mouth and down the throat to the esophagus. This procedure is used to define the cause of gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms including heartburn, abdominal pain, unexplained anemia, and swallowing difficulties, upper GI bleeding, the presence of tumors or ulcers, and more. It is more accurate than an x-ray for spotting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Your physician might use upper endoscopy to get a biopsy (small tissue samples) to detect abnormalities.
Preparing for an Upper Endoscopy
Your physician will provide you with special instructions to follow in order to prepare for your upper endoscopy. Since an empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, you will be instructed to not eat or drink, with the exception of water, for approximately 8 (eight) hours before your procedure. You may also be told to stop taking certain medications for several days before the endoscopy. You should also arrange for someone to take you home because of the sedation during the procedure.
What to Expect During the Upper Endoscopy
Intravenous (IV) sedation is used during an upper endoscopy. You will should not feel any discomfort and may have no memory of the test at all due to the sedation. A local anesthetic may also be sprayed into your mouth to subdue the gag reflex when your doctor inserts the endoscope. A mouth guard will be inserted to shield your teeth and the endoscope. If you wear dentures, you must remove them for the procedure.
Once the sedation takes effect, your doctor will gently pass a flexible endoscope into your mouth. The tiny camera at the tip of the endoscope will transfer images to a monitor for your gastroenterologist to view. Air is typically introduced through the endoscope to improve viewing. If your physician must obtain a biopsy, he/she will use the monitor to guide the tools used.
The exam usually lasts about 10 to 20 minutes. When the endoscopy is complete, food and liquids will be limited to avoid choking until the anesthetic wears off and the gag reflex returns.
What Happens After an Upper Endoscopy?
Immediately following an upper endoscopy, you will spend some time resting in recovery while the sedation medication, if used, wears off. Upper endoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure, so you can have your procedure in an office-based endoscopy center, which can provide more convenience and comfort than a hospital. The Center for Digestive Medicine has an office-based endoscopy center in Miami, Florida, allowing you to easily have your endoscopy done right in our office.
Once home, some patients may experience symptoms like bloating, cramping, or a sore throat. These symptoms should be minor and improve with time. Contact your doctor immediately if your symptoms do not improve within 24 hours after the procedure.