What is an EGD?

An EGD is a procedure where a long, flexible tube, called an endoscope, is used to examine the interior lining of the esophagus, stomach and the first portion of the small intestines (called the duodenum). This thin tube is passed through the mouth and back of the throat; it is smaller than most food eaten.

EGD’s are used to confirm abnormalities found by X-rays or to detect abnormalities that are too small to be found by an X-ray. If a suspicious area is found, your physician can pass an instrument through the endoscope to take a biopsy.

Why is an EGD necessary?

An EGD is helpful in detecting and diagnosing conditions of the digestive tract that are often undetectable by an X-ray. EGD’s are more accurate than an X-ray in detecting certain conditions such as ulcers in the stomach and upper small intestines, as well as early cancers.

EGD’s can also be used for certain treatments, such as the stretching of the esophagus to remove polyps or swallowed objects.

This safe and effective procedure is very helpful in the diagnosis and management of various conditions and disorders of the upper digestive tract. Your physician will thoroughly discuss the details of the treatment with you and answer any questions that you might have.

How can I prepare for the procedure?

Patients should not eat or drink anything (including water) after 11 p.m. the night before the procedure or at least six hours before the procedure. Please inform us of any allergies you have to medications.

You must be accompanied by an adult who can drive you home, as the medication will make you drowsy.

View the EGD Prep Sheet for more detailed information.

What can I expect during the procedure?

You will be given an intravenous medication to help you relax throughout the procedure. We might also spray a local anesthetic into your throat. Once comfortable, we will insert the endoscope through the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

Patients should experience mild to no discomfort during the procedure. Often times, patients fall asleep during the procedure.

What can I expect following the procedure?

You will be kept in the recovery area until the medication has worn off. Your throat might be somewhat sore for a few hours, and you might experience mild cramping due to the air that was inserted into your stomach. These side effects should subside within a few hours following the procedure.

What, if any, complications are there?

EGD procedures are considered safe and effective with very low risk involved when performed by a trained and experienced specialist. Although rare, complications include:

  • Tearing of the wall of the esophagus or stomach causing the digestive fluids to leak. This complication is manageable but might require surgery.
  • Bleeding at the area where a biopsy was performed or a polyp was removed. This is usually minimal but might require surgery or a transfusion.
  • Minor irritation around the injection site for the medication. This might last up to several months, but it will go away.
  • Allergic reactions to medication.
  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Although it is very rare, death is a remote possibility.

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