What is an Upper GI Endoscopy?

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  • Written By: Kathy Heydasch
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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An upper GI endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tube to enter the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of a patient in order to diagnose and/or treat medical ailments. The tube typically has a lighting system and a camera so that a technician can view the inside of the body with a minimally-invasive procedure. In an upper GI endoscopy, this tube examines the upper part of the digestive system called the GI tract. This tract is comprised of the stomach, esophagus and duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine.

The digestive system in the body processes all the food and liquids that a person consumes. Numerous things can go wrong within the digestive system, and a procedure called endoscopy allows a doctor to insert a flexible or rigid tube down the throat of the patient in order to visually inspect the inside of the body without surgery. This procedure is known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), otherwise known as an upper GI endoscopy.

A doctor that performs an upper GI endoscopy is a gastroenterologist, a specialist in the digestive system. He inserts a hollow, flexible tube through the mouth and down the esophagus. The tube is called an endoscope, and it is hollow in order to allow the doctor to insert specialized tools through the endoscope in order to retrieve tissue samples or to cauterize wounds.


An upper GI endoscopy is typically an outpatient procedure, and the actual process may only take 5 to 10 minutes. Patients must begin to prepare for the procedure as early as a week prior to the event by discontinuing the use of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Just like with regular surgery, eating and drinking should be discontinued for up to 12 hours prior to the procedure, and a patient should not expect to drive home.

The patient will be given a local anesthetic to numb the throat as well as a sedative which will either relax or knock out the patient during the procedure. Once the tube has been inserted, the physician will watch the results either through the scope or through a television monitor. The doctor will look for any abnormalities in the stomach, esophagus or duodenum. Depending on the case, a doctor may treat a bleeding ulcer, for example, or take a biopsy of a polyp.

Immediately following the procedure, the patient will recover from the sedative in a monitored setting. The doctor may be able to provide the patient with preliminary results at this time. If a biopsy is taken, the results may take up to a few days to return.



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