Upper endoscopy (EGD)

Upper Endoscopy, also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) allows a physician to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine with an endoscope (a lighted, flexible tube with a camera attached). An EGD can be used to diagnose, and sometimes treat problems associated with acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, ulcers, abnormal growths, obstructions, inflammation, celiac disease and hiatal hernia. The procedure is done at Fletcher Allen Health Care and takes about 20-30 minutes, with the entire outpatient visit typically lasting about 2-3 hours.

Before the procedure begins, you are given a local analgesic that numbs the throat and calms the gag reflex. A light sedative is delivered through an IV line in the hand or arm. This medication induces conscious sedation, which is different from general anesthesia. The patient is conscious, but feels relaxed and may fall asleep. A nurse administers the sedative and moderates the patient throughout the procedure. After conscious sedation, you may feel drowsy, and may not remember much about your procedure. In special circumstances, deeper sedation is required (based on your medical history), which is administered by an anesthesiologist. This is arranged in advance at the time of scheduling your procedure.

The endoscope is inserted into the mouth, and then advanced gently through the esophagus to the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum is examined, and if necessary, biopsies can be taken through the endoscope. Patients do not feel gastrointestinal biopsies. If there is difficulty swallowing and a narrowing of the esophagus, it can be dilated during the upper endoscopy.

After the procedure, patients rest in the recovery room for an hour while the sedative wears off. Driving is not allowed for 12 to 24 hours, so patients will need a ride home.

Resting for the remainder of the day is advised. Any soreness in the throat disappears within 24 to 48 hours. Regular activities may be resumed the following day.

The upper GI tract must be completely empty before an upper GI endoscopy.  Complete instructions for preparing for an Upper GI Endoscopy should be reviewed well in advance of the procedure. Patients with certain health conditions may require special instructions. Please refer to the instructions on the right side of this page.

Although quite rare, most complications are related to sedation administration (cardiac and respiratory problems); Rarely, bleeding, perforation, or infection may require additional treatment such as hospitalization and/or blood transfusions.