Upper Endoscopy: What to Expect

Everything you need to know before you have this upper GI tract procedure

male stomach illustration
male stomach illustration. Science Picture Co./Getty Images

The upper endoscopy, also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, allows the doctor to examine the inside of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum — the first part of the small intestine — with an instrument called an endoscope, which is a thin flexible lighted tube that has a camera at the end of it.

This allows the doctor to see the walls and tissue of the upper digestive tract. From these observations, he or she will be able to detect disorders such as narrowed areas or strictures, hiatal hernias, ulcers and tumors.

If necessary, biopsies can be collected.

What an Endoscopy Can Diagnose

There are numerous reasons why your doctor may order an endoscopy. For one, it could occur if you are suffering from persistent heartburn, nausea and vomiting, pain, problems swallowing, or unexplained weight loss. Or, he may want to figure out why you're anemic or suffering from nutritional deficiencies. By using the endoscopy, the following diseases can be diagnosed:

How to Prepare for an Endoscopy

Most likely you will know what your doctor is looking for before you undergo your procedure. If not, you should discuss what the results could possibly tell him or her. The other thing that you should talk to your physician about is what medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.

Basically, you want to disclose whatever you are taking by mouth daily or on a regular basis.

Next, arrange a ride home from the procedure. You are not allowed to drive for 24 hours afterward or until the effects of the sedative wears off.

And as with most procedures in which the patient is sedated, you cannot eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in the 8 hours leading up to the procedure.


What to Expect During the Endoscopy

You will either go to the hospital or to an outpatient facility for your test. Before the procedure, you will be given a local anesthetic that will be sprayed into your throat to suppress the gag reflex, and an intravenous sedative that will help you relax.

You will lie on your side on an examining table. Then the doctor will slowly pass the endoscope through your mouth and down the esophagus. The gag reflex and the urge to vomit usually passes once the tube is in the esophagus. The tube will not interfere with breathing. 

Once the endoscope is in place, the doctor will be able to examine the esophagus and stomach through a tiny camera, and detect any abnormalities. Other instruments can be inserted through the endoscope tube, which will allow the doctor to perform biopsies if conditions such as cancer or infections are evident.

After the Endoscopy

It is common that for a few days after the procedure, you may experience a sore throat. If you start vomiting a large amount of blood or experiencing severe stomach pains, the doctor should be notified immediately as these are signs of complications.


Other diagnostic tests:



"Upper GI Endoscopy." NIDDK. November 2014. 
"Preparation of patients for GI endoscopy." VOLUME 57, NO. 4, 2003. American Society For Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 1 Feb 2007.

"Heartburn? Could It Be GERD? Understanding Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." AN417/AGA/GERD/Booklet 12/03/03. American Gastroenterological Association. 1 Feb 2007.

Continue Reading