What is an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)?
An esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD is an upper GI endoscopy procedure performed to diagnose and treat problems in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
This procedure involves the use of an endoscope, which is a long and flexible tube with a tiny camera and light on one end. This long tube is placed into the mouth and throat and then slowly pushed through the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, and duodenum). Images of the upper GI tract are then seen on the monitor.
Special tools may also be inserted along with the endoscope for the following purposes:
- Collection of tissue samples for biopsy
- Removal of any stuck particles or food in the upper GI tract
- Removal of tumors or polyps
- Injection of fluid
- Stoppage of bleeding
- Endoscopic surgery
- Opening a narrowed area
- Using laser therapy
Why is EGD performed?
The EGD test is used to help doctors identify, diagnose, and treat upper GI tract problems. This test is usually used to find out the cause of unexplained upper GI tract symptoms, which may include any of the following:
- Upper GI tract bleeding
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Persistent nausea and vomiting of unknown reasons
- Upper abdominal pain
- Noncardiac chest pain
- Unintentional weight loss
Other problems and disorders of the upper GI tract can also be identified through an EGD test. They include:
- Upper GI tract infections
- Crohn's disease
- Celiac disease
- Malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous) tumors
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- A hiatal hernia
- Blockages or strictures
- Esophageal varices
- Ulcers (sores)
- Black or tarry stools
Risks and Complications
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy is a generally safe procedure. However, there are also possible complications that can occur with an EGD test. They include:
- Perforation or tear in the lining of the upper GI tract
Other risks that are unique to each individual are also possible. The use of sedatives or painkillers throughout the procedure may trigger a reaction to some people. These reactions may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Laryngospasm (vocal cord spasm)
- Excessive sweating
Make sure to speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding the procedure.
The procedure will be initially explained by your healthcare provider. During this time, you can ask your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the procedure. Make sure to inform your doctor if you have certain allergies and sensitivity to anesthetic drugs.
After discussing the procedure with your doctor, you may be asked to complete and sign a consent form to do the procedure. You should carefully read the consent form and ask questions if there are some things that are unclear to you.
You will not be allowed to eat or drink anything for eight hours before the procedure, which means that food and drinks should not be consumed after midnight. Additional instructions, usually regarding a special diet that you should follow, may be provided a couple of days before the procedure.
It is also very important to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or think that you might be pregnant.
A history of a bleeding disorder is another important information that you should share with your doctor. Inform your doctor if you are using medications that affect the blood's clotting process, such as blood thinners, aspirin, or ibuprofen. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking these medications before the procedure.
To help prepare your bowel, you may be asked to take an enema, laxative, or rectal laxative suppository. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare your bowel before the procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
First, you will be asked to remove jewelry, clothing, and other things that may get in the way of the procedure. If you are wearing dentures, you will be asked to remove them for the test. A gown will also be provided if you are asked to take off your clothes.
An IV line will be started in your hand or arm and a sedative will be injected into the IV line to help you relax. During the procedure, your heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen level, and blood pressure will be monitored. On an X-ray table, you will lie on your left side with your head bent forward.
Once all the preparations are in place and the sedative takes effect, the doctor will insert the tube into your mouth and throat, and down to your upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach, and duodenum). As the tube moves along, you may feel some pressure. During the procedure, fluid or tissue samples may also be collected. After the doctor is done with the examination of your upper GI tract, the tube will be taken out.
What to Expect After the Procedure
You will be taken to the recovery area after the procedure. Once you are awake, alert, and stable, you will be moved to your hospital room or may be discharged if you are an outpatient. Make sure to arrange for someone to accompany and drive you home after the procedure.
You also have to wait for your gag reflex to return before you can consume anything to avoid choking. After the procedure, you may also have a sore throat for a few days, especially when you swallow. However, you don't need to worry since this is completely normal. Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, you can go back to your normal diet and daily activities.
However, call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms after the procedure:
- Fever with chills
- Bleeding, swelling, drainage, or redness from your IV site
- Stomach pain
- Bloody, black, or tarry stools
- Difficulty swallowing
- A worsening sore throat or chest pain
Depending on your situation, your doctor may give you other specific instructions.
Before the Procedure
Before signing the consent form, make sure you know all of the following:
- The name of the procedure
- The purpose of the procedure
- The benefits and risks of the procedure
- The possible complications or side effects of the procedure
- The time and place where you will undergo the procedure
- Your healthcare provider's qualifications
- The things that would happen if you refuse to the procedure
- Your other options or alternative procedures
- When will you get the results
- Who to contact after the procedure (if you have concerns or questions)
- The cost of the procedure