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 upper endoscopy. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so your physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach, which expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for your healthcare provider 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. Your healthcare provider can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests. During upper endoscopy, if your doctor discovers a stricture (a narrowed area), he or she may perform dilation. Dilation stretches the narrowed area and may improve pain or difficulty with swallowing. It may also help if you have a problem with regurgitating food.
The upper endoscopy takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the facility for one to two hours until the medication wears off.
(Click EGD Procedure for more specifics about the procedure itself.)
Possible complications of upper endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining (known as a perforation). However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the procedure.
(Click Upper Endoscopy Complications to learn more about possible minor and major problems that can occur with this procedure.)