OSF Medical Group

Upper GI Endoscopy

An upper GI endoscopy, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), uses a thin gastroscope with a light and camera at its tip to look inside of the upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine or duodenum. 

It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure but sometimes must be performed in the hospital or emergency room. The procedure is commonly used to help identify and/or treat the causes of:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Bleeding
  • Swallowing issues
  • Ulcers
  • Tumors

Upper GI endoscopy is more accurate than X-rays for detecting abnormal growths and for examining the inside of the upper digestive system. Abnormalities can be treated through the endoscope as well. These include:

  • Polyps (growths of tissue in the stomach) can be identified and removed, and tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken for analysis.
  • Narrowed areas or strictures of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum from cancer or other reasons can be dilated or stretched using balloons or other devices. In some cases, a stent (wire or plastic mesh tube) can be put in the stricture to prop it open.
  • Objects stuck in the esophagus can be removed.
  • Bleeding, due to ulcers, cancer, or varices, can be treated. 

What to Expect

Before your provider performs the test, he or she will explain the procedure in detail including possible complications and side effects. They will also answer any questions you may have.

  • You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and to remove your eyeglasses and dentures.
  • A local anesthetic may be applied at the back of your throat for your comfort during the procedure.
  • You will be given a pain reliever and a sedative intravenously that will make you relaxed and drowsy.
  • A mouthpiece will be placed.
  • You will lie on your left side during the procedure.
  • The surgeon will insert the endoscope into your mouth, through your esophagus, and into your stomach.

This procedure usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Preparing for Your Upper GI Endoscopy

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your EGD or at least eight hours before the procedure.
  • You will need to bring a responsible adult with you to accompany you home after the procedure. You will be given sedation during the procedure, which causes drowsiness and dizziness and impairs your judgment, making it unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery for up to eight hours following the procedure.
  • Stop Coumadin five days before your scope.
  • Stop Plavix and Aspirin seven days before your scope.
  • Medications for high blood pressure, heart conditions, or thyroid conditions must be taken with a small sip of water before the procedure.
  • If you have diabetes and use insulin, you must adjust the dosage of insulin on the day of the scope. Your diabetes care provider will help you with this adjustment. Bring your diabetes medication with you so you can take it after the procedure is over.
  • Tell your surgeon if you are pregnant, have a lung or heart condition, or are allergic to any medications.