Your stomach and duodenum must be empty in order for the EGD to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything for at least six hours beforehand. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home -- you will not be allowed to drive after the procedure because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions.
(Click Preparing for an EGD for more information.)
For the EGD procedure, you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope. Right before the procedure, the physician will spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging. You may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax during the exam. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
Through the endoscope, the physician can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, that do not show up well on x-rays. The physician can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests. If your doctor discovers a stricture (narrowed area) during upper endoscopy, he or she may perform dilation. Dilation stretches the narrowed area and may improve your difficulty or pain with swallowing. It may also help if you have a problem with regurgitating food.
The EGD takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for one to two hours until the medication wears off.
(Click EGD Procedure for more information.)