Upper endoscopy is an outpatient procedure that examines your upper digestive tract, which extends from the mouth to the duodenum, the top of the small intestine. Also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD for short, this procedure takes a closer look at the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum either as a screening tool or as a treatment. Your gastroenterologist will insert an endoscope through your mouth while you are under sedation during the procedure. An endoscope is a long, thin tube with a small camera attached at the end. There are two types of upper endoscopy— diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy.
Diagnostic upper endoscopy can be used as a screening tool for esophageal or gastric cancer.. If you’ve presented to your gastroenterologist with certain symptoms, they may want to perform an upper endoscopy. Symptoms may include:
If you experience these symptoms and they persist for more than a day or two, you should let your gastroenterologist know. However, gastrointestinal bleeding should be attended to immediately.
The upper endoscopy gives your physician the ability to diagnose certain conditions and diseases, based on the results. Gastric ulcers, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and other diseases of the upper digestive tract can be diagnosed via upper endoscopy.
If you have a gastrointestinal condition that has already been diagnosed, the endoscope can be used in many cases to treat GI disorders. There are many different types of endoscopic therapies. They include:
Individual preparation for an endoscopy is determined by the type of endoscopy it is and where it will be performed on the body. Generally, you will need to fast 6-8 hours before the procedure. You may have to take laxatives as well, depending on the type of endoscopy. Your doctor will give you instructions and an exam on the day of your procedure. Ensure to tell your physician all the medications you take.
For typical endoscopies, you will be put under IV sedation during the procedure. Your physician may also apply local anesthetic to your mouth or throat to prevent gagging or other problems during the procedure. Once you are relaxed, the doctor will then insert an endoscope through the mouth, or sometimes the nose. Depending on the nature of the procedure, you may also have other diagnostic tests performed if it is a diagnostic endoscopy, such as an ultrasound.
A typical upper endoscopy (whether diagnostic or therapeutic) is an outpatient procedure, either performed in the hospital or in your gastroenterologist’s office. After the procedure, you will be observed for roughly one hour or until the medication wears off. Make sure you have someone to drive you home. You shouldn’t perform any strenuous tasks for the rest of the day, but in most cases, you can return to normal activities the following day. For endoscopies that are more invasive, such as bronchoscopy, you may require more recovery time at home before you resume everyday activities.
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