Do I Need An Esophagogastroscopy?

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Even though you may not recognize the word, you have probably heard of someone having an esophagogastroduodenoscopy. This procedure is more commonly known as an EGD, an upper GI, a gastroscopy or simply an endoscopy.

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While there are a number of procedures that utilize the flexible, lighted instrument equipped with a camera, the EGD is the most common type of testing done with an endoscope. This type of endoscopy allows the doctor to view the esophagus, as well as your stomach and the first section of the small intestine, known as the duodenum.

Why Has My Doctor Ordered A Gastroscopy?

For most patients, a gastroscopy is done to explore what may be causing your symptoms. Common symptoms that may indicate the need for a gastroscopy include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Suspected ulcers
  • Ongoing nausea or vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Prolonged, unexplained constipation
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Blood in the stool (usually microscopic amounts of blood which are detected by your colon and rectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist)
  • Anemia

Can An Endoscope Be Used For Treatment?

In the past, many of the procedures now done endoscopically required slightly invasive procedures with longer recovery times. Today, some problems with the upper digestive tract can be addressed in your doctor’s office with little postoperative downtime.

Most commonly, tissue samples are taken during an upper GI endoscopy. These samples, known as biopsies, can then be examined to determine the cause of the issue and help reach a diagnosis. This is possible because tiny forceps that slide through the endoscopy tube can be employed.

The endoscope can also be used directly address some problems of the upper GI tract. Foreign bodies that are stuck in the throat can be removed, narrowing areas can be stretched using dilating balloons, and stents can be placed to stop blockages.

How Should I Prepare For My Esophagogastroscopy?

Because it is minimally invasive, there is little preparation necessary for an esophagogastroscopy. Your doctor or a nurse will walk you through the necessary preparation when your appointment is scheduled, but you can expect the following:

  • To be asked about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take. Some of these may need to be discontinued or adjusted before the procedure.
  • To need someone to drive you to the appointment, and possibly provide transportation for as long as 24 hours. This may vary depending on the type of sedation used, and your reaction to it.
  • To fast for up to eight hours before the procedure. This may include drinking some liquids, smoking and chewing gum, as well.

What Can I Expect During MY EGD?

A gastroscopy is performed by a specialist who has received extensive training in using an endoscope and diagnosing issues with the digestive tract. In many cases, these are colon and rectal surgeons, who are actually specialists in all aspects of your GI tract. They may have a small team of well-trained and experienced nurses and technicians who assist them with endoscopic procedures.

The gastroscopy will be performed while you are lying on your left side, while you are sedated and monitored. This is usually performed at an outpatient surgical center.  The doctor will slowly feed the flexible tube into your mouth and down your throat. You will have no discomfort, as you will be sedated by an anesthesiologist.  As the endoscope is fed further through your esophagus and stomach, it will send live video to a connected monitor. Your doctor will watch this monitor for abnormalities and possible causes of your symptoms. He can also perform biopsies and other procedures. Typically a gastroscopy only last a few minutes. Once he is finished, the doctor will gently remove the endoscope.

Are There Risks To An Upper Endoscopic Procedure?

While an esophagogastroscopy is minimally invasive, there are still a few risks that you should be aware of. Your doctor will also go over these risks with you before the procedure. The important thing to remember, however, is that these adverse effects are rare. If you are at an increased risk of any of these complications due to your health history or current medical problems, your doctor will also be able to offer advice on how to minimize these risks.

  • Some people may react poorly to the sedation.
  • Rarely, an infection may develop. If you have a heart murmur, endocarditis or certain other health conditions, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to reduce your risk of infection even further.
  • While unlikely, excessive bleeding or perforation are possible.

What Is Recovery Like From An Upper GI Endoscopy?

Because a routine upper GI endoscopy often requires some type of sedation, it may take a few hours before people feel back to normal. The procedure itself typically has no ill effects, since it is minimally invasive. If no sedation is necessary, you will be able to return to work immediately. Even if you are sedated, you should be able to drive and return to work within 24 hours. Some people report having a mild sore throat, but this usually disappears within a few days.

If you have had a stent placed or other treatment performed, your doctor may give you specific care instructions and offer more details on your expected recovery based on your individual situation.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

The board certified surgeons of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates perform a number of endoscopic procedures, including esophagogastroscopy. They are specialists in all diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. By calling (310) 273-2310, you can schedule a confidential appointment and discuss any of your questions with your physician.

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