An Upper Endoscopy Procedure and Preparation

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An upper endoscopy is a procedure to look at your upper digestive tract from your esophagus to the first part of your small intestine. This procedure will help the doctor see what is causing the symptoms you are experiencing or clarify any abnormalities that may have been seen on an X-ray.

Some of the symptoms that usually prompt an upper endoscopy are swallowing difficulties, vomiting, bleeding, gastro reflux, abdominal pain, or chest pain. It will primarily give structural information to your physician. Learn what happens during this procedure and what to expect.

The Upper Endoscopy

The upper endoscopy is three procedures in one. It can be called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). It combines the following:

  • An esophagoscopy is a procedure to view the inside of the esophagus.
  • A gastroscopy is a procedure to view the inside of the stomach.
  • A duodenoscopy is a procedure to view the inside of the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.

The procedure is usually performed by a gastroenterologist. A flexible instrument with a small camera on the end, called a fiberoptic endoscope, is passed through the mouth, down the throat, and into the stomach.


  • Your stomach must be empty for the doctor to be able to get a clear view. You shouldn't have anything to eat or drink for at least eight hours before the examination.
  • You will be given medication that will make you sleepy, relaxed, and possibly light-headed. It is important for you to bring someone with you who can drive you home, as you won't be able to drive for the rest of the day. Someone should also be with you the rest of the day as you shouldn't be left alone.
  • Your throat is sprayed with a numbing medicine that will help prevent discomfort and gagging. The numbness will last about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side on the exam table. Dentures or partial plates will be removed for the procedure so the numbing medicine can reach all areas of the mouth.

During the Endoscopy Procedure

When you are properly relaxed, you will be asked to swallow once or twice during the initial period of insertion of the endoscope. The tube doesn't interfere with your ability to breathe and is only mildly uncomfortable following the initial insertion.

The exam will take about 10 to 20 minutes. You may have a feeling of fullness in your abdomen as the doctor injects a moderate amount of air to expand the stomach, allowing for better visualization. A biopsy may be taken for examination. You will not feel any discomfort when this is done.

In certain situations, electrosurgical instruments may be used to treat some medical conditions. Pictures may be taken of the inside of your digestive tract for documentation of any abnormalities.

After the Endoscopy Procedure

If you received sedation, you will need to recover until you are awake enough before being able to go home. You may not recall any of the procedure because of the effect of the sedation medicine. You may have a slight sore throat after the procedure, which may last up to 24 hours.

Your doctor will tell you when you will be able to eat or drink following the procedure. Your doctor will discuss with you and/or a member of your family the results of the procedure.

If you should develop any unusual or severe abdominal pain or bleeding following the procedure, you need to let your doctor know.

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