What Is an EGD?

An EGD, also known as upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, is a visual examination of the upper digestive tract. 

Why Do I Need an EGD?

There are many gastroenterology disorders which can involve the upper GI tract and can be diagnosed using endoscopy. Common symptoms which may call for an endoscopy are:

  • Heartburn
  • Pains in the stomach or chest
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Abnormalities which may be detected by EGD include:

  • Ulcers – breakdowns in the lining of the organs
  • Gastritis – inflammation of the stomach
  • Infections
  • Tumors or Cancer
  • Obstructions – blockages or narrowings

What Are the Benefits of an EGD?

EGD is the most accurate means of identifying abnormalities in the upper GI tract. In addition to providing a diagnosis, in many cases it enables the physician to perform specific treatment. Bleeding can be controlled, polyps removed, and obstructions relieved.

Is There an Alternative to an EGD?

Yes. The primary alternative to an EGD is an upper GI series or barium X-ray. This procedure is less costly, but it is also less accurate, and it does not permit the application of treatments. 

Please keep in mind that some abnormalities such as gastritis would be completely missed by X-rays. In addition tissue and fluid samples cannot be collected this way.

Are There Side Effects and/or Risks to an EGD?

No test is 100% accurate, and, if performed infrequently, some abnormalities could be missed. Overall, a colonoscopy is a very safe procedure, and complications are rare. Some of these side effects may occur:

  • A temporary feeling of bloating
  • Minimal bleeding after a biopsy or removal of a polyp
  • Oversedation (occurs very infrequently and can always be reversed)
  • Localized irritation of the vein can occur at the IV site resulting in a tender lump that could last several weeks

More serious and even less frequent complications include:

  • Complications of an underlying heart or lung disease
  • Reactions to one of the sedatives
  • Perforation or a tear in one of the organs (exceedingly rare)
  • Hemorrhage

Any of these complications could involve hospitalization, emergency surgery, or, in an exceptionally rare case, death.

What Will Happen When I Arrive for My EGD?

  • A brief medical history will be reviewed with you by a nurse.
  • You will provide a list of any current medications you are taking along with any allergies you have to medications.
  • You will be asked to remove your clothing and change into a patient gown.

What Will Happen When I Arrive for My EGD?

  • An intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed into your arm so that medications can be given for sedation. It is generally not a painful exam, but the sedation helps you to relax. Most of the effects of the sedation persist for 15-60 minutes, and you may not be able to recall the procedure afterwards.
  •  Your throat is usually anesthetized with a spray or liquid to minimize the gag reflex. The endoscope is then gently inserted into the upper esophagus and advanced through the upper digestive tract. The endoscope is small compared to the airway and does not interfere with normal breathing. 
  • You will be monitored closely throughout the exam. 
  • As the exam takes place, any additional necessary procedures are performed. For example, a biopsy can be performed where a small piece of tissue is removed for microscopic analysis. A bleeding vessel can be cauterized (burned) or injected with medication to stop the bleeding. A polyp can be removed with a wire snare and electrocautery.
  • Sometimes, a biliary drainage procedure will be done during an EGD. Biliary drainage is a gallbladder function test that stimulates your gallbladder.

What Will Happen After My EGD?

  • You will remain in the recovery room area for one half to one hour after the procedure, depending on your vital signs and level of consciousness. 
  • You may feel bloated from the air used during the procedure. 
  • The medication given to you during the procedure may affect your reflexes and judgment. 
  • Following the exam, your physician will discuss the results with you and your loved ones.
  • You should not drive a car, operate machinery, or make any legally-binding decisions for the remainder of the day.

What Else Should I Know About My EGD?

  • If you are on blood thinner medication, such as Coumadin® or warfarin, it is important to let us know well in advance of your appointment. If you are currently taking these medications and have not already given that information to our office, please call immediately. A nurse will contact you with instructions about taking your Coumadin® prior to this procedure.
  • If you are on the medication Carafate, notify our office prior to the procedure for instructions. The medication will need to be stopped before your procedure.
  • YOU MUST HAVE SOMEONE TO DRIVE YOU HOME, OR THE DOCTOR WILL NOT DO THE PROCEDURE. If your driver does not plan to stay during your procedure, you will need to provide a phone number where that person can be contacted.
  • Using a small amount of water, take your prescription medications as you usually do unless you have been instructed to hold off the medication prior to the procedure. 
  • It is very important that you take your blood pressure or heart medication as usual.
  • Bring your insurance cards with you.
  • If you are a diabetic, check your blood sugar at home before your procedure.
  • If you have an implanted cardiac defibrillator, it is very important that you bring the card identifying the device manufacturer, model, and serial number.
  • You may wear your glasses, dentures, or hearing aids. It is best to leave your jewelry at home.

How Do I Prepare for My EGD?

Please click the button below to view the preparations for an EGD: