Upper Endoscopy

An esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), more commonly known as an upper endoscopy, is an imaging test performed to detect or determine the cause of a variety of GI conditions. By performing an upper endoscopy, a gastroenterologist can gather information by seeing the inside of a patient’s esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). An upper endoscopy is a quick outpatient procedure which lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes typically.

When undergoing an endoscopy, patients are often sedated with intravenous medication. Once the patient is relaxed and asleep, a long flexible tube with a camera and light, known as an endoscope, is fed into the patient’s mouth, through the esophagus, and down into the stomach and small intestine. A gastroenterologist will then gather some images to better understand and evaluate the patient’s physical condition.

In addition to taking pictures, if the physician finds something of interest, such as abnormal tissue, they may collect a biopsy for testing. Biopsies can be gathered during the course of the upper endoscopy by simply attaching the necessary tools to the flexible tube and extracting a sample from the patient.

Do I Need an Upper Endoscopy?

Upper endoscopies can help detect the presence of illnesses or conditions which affect the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine. Many people commonly experience symptoms that will subside after a certain amount of time. If you have been suffering for a prolonged period of time, a gastroenterologist may suggest an upper endoscopy if you display one or numerous of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody vomit
  • Heartburn
  • Excessive belching
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Though they are effective in providing doctors with information about what is happening on the interior of the stomach and intestines, upper endoscopies are not able to gather information about nearby organs. If a doctor suspects a more widespread condition, in addition to the upper endoscopy, they may recommend other tests like a CT scan, ultrasound, and X-ray. This will allow them to gather even more information in order to craft the most effective treatment plan.

How Should I Prepare for an Upper Endoscopy?

If your gastroenterologist has recommended an endoscopy to further evaluate your condition, understand how to prepare for the procedure. Endoscopies can be performed wherever your gastroenterologist practices, which will often be in a clinic, surgical center, or a hospital.

  • Transportation – Since you will undergo some form of sedation, make suitable arrangements for your transportation. You will likely feel tired or drowsy following the appointment, so plan to have a family member, friend, or driver to take you home.
  • Food Restriction – Eight hours before your endoscopy is performed, you will be asked to refrain from eating and drinking. For this reason, many endoscopies will likely be scheduled for the early morning hours. Your gastroenterologist will request that you not ingest any solids in order to curb the risk of aspiration during the endoscopy. Aspiration occurs when food, liquid, or vomit is breathed in and can result in choking. Depending on your specific condition, your physician may have more detailed instructions.
  • Attire – Once you arrive and check in to your appointment, you will be provided a gown to change into for the procedure. It’s recommended that you wear something comfortable that will be easy to change into afterward.
  • Check-In – Arrive about thirty minutes early for your appointment. You will likely have some paperwork to fill out, and a prompt arrival helps the office staff get you checked into the system in a timely manner so that your endoscopy can begin at the scheduled time. You will want to make sure that you have your insurance, personal identification, and form of payment with you during check out. If you are paying for your endoscopy without insurance, the price can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.

Results and Follow-up

After the exam, you will likely feel sleepy, and a follow-up appointment may be scheduled to discuss the findings of your procedure. If you are alert enough and the gastroenterologist has been able to make a preliminary assessment of your endoscopy results, then they may consult with your immediately following your procedure. However, the doctor performing the endoscopy may not be the physician you normally see, so they may just schedule you to come back to consult with your usual gastroenterologist.

Upper endoscopies can be useful in detecting a variety of conditions including ulcers, hiatal hernia, inflammation, cancer, diseases like Crohn’s and Celiac.

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