Endoscopy is a diagnostic test that lets your doctor look inside your body and examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine using a scope-like instrument called an endoscope. The scope has a tiny light and lens attached to a long, thin tube that produces images your doctor can see on a video monitor. You may also hear this test referred to as an upper GI endoscopy, a panendoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).
Why is This Test Done?
A diagnostic EGD allows your doctor to look at the inside of your upper digestive tract if you have symptoms such as persistent pain, nausea, vomiting, local bleeding, or difficulty swallowing.
The test is better than x-rays for finding inflammation, ulcerations, and tumors. In addition to what can be seen, your doctor can take a small tissue sample (biopsy) or cells (cytology) to send for an examination in the laboratory to distinguish if an abnormal growth is benign or malignant. An endoscopy may also be done to deliver treatment with little discomfort for you for a problem located in the upper digestive tract. For example, a polyp can be removed, a narrowed passageway can be widened, or local bleeding can be stopped.
- It is safest to have an empty stomach during the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything – including water – after midnight on the night before a morning procedure. Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions if they wish to change this routine.
- Tell your doctor or nurse about any medications you take before the day of the test, if possible. You may have to adjust your dose.
- Also tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies you have, including medications and foods.
- If you usually have to take an antibiotic prior to getting any dental work done, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse – you may need antibiotics before this test.
The Day of the Procedure
- You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and remove any dentures, contact lenses, or glasses.
- You will be asked to empty your bladder.
The procedure is usually done in an endoscopy suite. Sometimes, it is done in your room.
- After your vital signs are taken, an I.V. line will be placed in your arm. This allows your doctor to give medications to relax you during the procedure.
- A nurse or doctor may spray your throat with a local anesthetic, which may taste bitter. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
- You will be asked to lie on your left side. Your doctor will guide the scope through your mouth and down the esophagus, into the stomach and duodenum.
- The scope does not enter your airway and it will not interfere with your ability to breathe.
- Some people may feel some discomfort – if you do, relax and take deep, slow breathes. Many people fall asleep during the procedure.
- If necessary, small pieces of tissue (biopsy) or a sample of cells will be taken through this instrument. This will not hurt.
- The procedure may last 30 minutes.
After the Procedure
- When the anesthetic wears off, your throat may feel sore. You may also feel drowsy from the medications given during the procedure, so you should sit up slowly.
- You may feel bloated from the air that was put into your stomach during the procedure but you can eat after you leave, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Start off with water first, and then try drinking other liquids. If you can swallow easily, you may eat.
- If you had a sedative and you are an outpatient, you must have a responsible adult to drive you home.
Are There Risks Involved?
Complications are uncommon, particularly if your doctors are both highly trained and experienced, as they are here at Roswell Park.
Possible complications include:
- bleeding (at the site of a biopsy or polyp removal)
- reaction to the sedative medication
- complications from pre-existing heart or lung disease
- a tear in the lining of the digestive tract (perforation)
When to Contact Your Doctor
Your stool may be black and have small blood clots, this is not unusual. Report any unusual blood in your stool to your doctor. If you have a great deal of pain, difficulty breathing, or spit up blood, alert your doctor or nurse immediately.
Call your doctor immediately if you have:
- fever of 100.4°F or above
- trouble swallowing
- increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain
- unusual blood in your stool or are coughing/spitting up blood
- difficulty breathing
Questions or Concerns
For any questions during office hours, please call your doctor. For evening and weekend questions, please call the switchboard at (716) 845-2300 and ask for the Upper GI doctor on call.