Upper Endoscopy

What is an upper endoscopy?

Upper endoscopy/EGD is a diagnostic and potentially therapeutic procedure used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and proximal portion of the small intestine with a camera-equipped flexible instrument. The indications for this procedure are many, including evaluation of nausea, weight loss, gastrointestinal bleeding, pain, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and heartburn.

The procedure typically lasts 15 to 30 minutes.

upper endoscopy

The above sequence of pictures are from endoscopies performed by Associates in Gastroenterology physicians. The picture on the left is of a patient with Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that reflects chronic injury to the distal esophagus. Barrett’s Esophagus is a condition with an increased risk for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, which is seen in the middle picture. The picture on the right is of a patient with eosinophilic esophagitis, a condition increasingly recognized as a cause of difficutly swallowing and pain. Patients with this condition may have an associated food allergy as the culprit.

What preparation is required for an EGD?

The preparation is quite easy for this procedure. We ask that you do not eat any solid foods after midnight before your procedure. You may have clear liquids until 6 hours prior to your procedure. Clear liquids include water, clear broths, coffee without milk nor creamer, clear fruit juices without pulp (apple), gatorade, or jell-o.

What happens before your procedure?

At either the Endoscopy Center of Colorado Springs, or at Penrose if your insurance requires you to have your procedure there, you will be registered as a patient, will be given a consent form to read and to sign, and will have the opportunity to ask the nurse and doctor questions. An IV catheter will be placed in an arm or hand vein.

Your physician will go over the procedure again with you, and if all questions have been answered, will give you medications to achieve a conscious sedation. Most patients tolerate the procedure very well with little memory of the actual procedure. Our goal is to ensure you have a comfortable experience, and we will provide as much sedation as we can safely administer titrated to your individual needs.

What happens during the procedure?

The instrument will be inserted through the mouth and into the duodenum (small intestine). Your physician may instill water or air to help with visualization.

Areas of abnormal tissue will be biopsied, and photos of the areas will be obtained and reviewed with you. If a biopsy is performed, your physician will go over this with you afterwards and remind you not to take aspirin or NSAIDs for several days afterward.

What happens after your procedure?

After your procedure, you will be monitored and allowed to recover from the sedation. This typically takes 30 minutes to one hour. Your abdomen may be a little sore for a while, and you may feel bloating or cramping right after the procedure because of air introduced into your GI tract during the test.

With rare exceptions, most patients can resume a normal diet immediately afterwards.

You will go home with a copy of your procedure report, and your referring physician will receive a copy in the mail usually within one week.

What are the possible complications of an EGD?

Upper endoscopy (EGD) is generally safe and complications are rare when the test is performed by a Board-certified gastroenterologist.

Irritation may occur at the vein where medications were given, sometimes leaving a tender lump lasting for several weeks. Applying hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.

There is a small risk that biopsies or removal of polyps will cause bleeding which could require transfusions. You should take no aspirin, arthritis pills (other than acetaminophen/Tylenol), or other blood thinners for a period of time after biopsies or polypectomy. Your physician will inform you when you can resume these types of medications.

Rarely, a tear in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract could require hospitalization, emergency surgery, or even death.

Other rare risks include a reaction to the sedatives used or aggravation of heart or lung diseases.

Please call immediately if after the procedure you develop fever, significant pain, or bleeding.

EGD General Instructions

Please note that if your insurance information has changed since you were last seen at our practice, you must update your information in person at least 5 days prior to your procedure. This will prevent errors in billing and avoid charges that you might otherwise have to pay.