Understanding Upper Endoscopy: What You Need to Know

Posted on: 6 June 2024

If you've been experiencing symptoms such as abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or persistent heartburn, your doctor may recommend an upper endoscopy. This procedure allows doctors to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine using a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera and light source. While it may sound intimidating, an upper endoscopy is a common and safe procedure that can provide valuable information about your digestive health. 

What Is an Upper Endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy, also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, is a minimally invasive procedure used to inspect the upper gastrointestinal tract. During the procedure, a long and thin tube called an endoscope is inserted through the mouth and gently guided down the throat into the esophagus. The endoscope has a tiny camera at its tip that transmits images to a monitor for the doctor to view in real-time.

Why Is It Done?

Upper endoscopies are typically performed for diagnostic purposes when patients experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, nausea/vomiting, unexplained weight loss, or bleeding in the digestive tract. They can also be used for therapeutic purposes, such as removing polyps or foreign objects from the digestive tract.

How Should You Prepare for an Upper Endoscopy?

Before undergoing an upper endoscopy, your doctor will provide specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Generally, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your appointment. You may also need to stop taking certain medications that can interfere with blood clotting. It's important to inform your doctor about any medications you currently take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

What Happens during the Procedure?

An upper endoscopy is typically performed on an outpatient basis. You will be given a sedative to help you relax, and a numbing spray or gel may be applied to your throat to make the procedure more comfortable. After settling into a comfortable side position, the endoscope will pass through your mouth and into your esophagus. The camera at the tip of the endoscope will transmit images of your digestive tract to a monitor for the doctor to examine. If necessary, small tissue samples (biopsies) can also be taken during the procedure for further examination.

What Can You Expect after an Upper Endoscopy?

After an upper endoscopy, you will be monitored in a recovery area until the sedative wears off. You may experience some mild discomfort in your throat or bloating from air used during the procedure, but these symptoms should subside within a few hours. Your doctor will discuss their findings with you and provide any necessary treatment recommendations based on the results of the procedure.