HealthSheets™


Upper GI Endoscopy with Biopsy

Upper GI endoscopy is a test that looks inside your upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract. This includes your food pipe (esophagus), stomach, and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). The test is also known as EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy). It is done using a tool called an endoscope. This is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at one end. The test helps find problems such as ulcers, infection, or growths. It can evaluate for celiac disease, gastritis, and esophagitis. During the test, tissue samples (biopsies) may be taken and studied for problems.

Outline of head and torso with endoscope in mouth and esophagus. Scope ends in first part of small intestine.
With the aid of an endoscope, the doctor can view the inside of the upper GI tract and also take small tissue samples.

Getting ready for your procedure

Follow any instructions from your healthcare provider.

Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you are taking. You may need to stop taking all or some of these before the test. This includes:

  • All prescription medicines

  • Herbs, vitamins, and other supplements

  • Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen

  • Street drugs

Follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

The day of the procedure

The procedure takes about 20 minutes. You will go home the same day.

Before the procedure begins:

You may be given medicine to help you relax or sleep (sedation). This is given through an IV line placed in a vein in your arm or hand. Your throat may be numbed with a spray or liquid. You will be given a small plastic guard to protect your teeth.

During the procedure:

  • You lie on your left side. The endoscope is placed in your mouth, and it moves down your throat.

  • Air is used to expand your GI tract so the lining can be seen more clearly. You may feel pressure or mild pain from the air.

  • The scope sends pictures of your GI tract to a computer screen. The esophagus, stomach, and duodenum are viewed.

  • Problems, such as bleeding, redness or swelling (inflammation), or growths may be seen. Using tools inserted through the endoscope, small samples of tissue can be taken. In some cases, small growths can be removed.

  • The endoscope is then removed.

After the procedure: 

The healthcare provider will talk with you afterward about the results. You’ll rest until you can go home. Have an adult family member or friend drive you. Relax for the rest of the day. If you had a biopsy, the results will be ready in about 7 days.

Recovering at home

You’ll likely feel drowsy after the test. A mild sore throat and mild gas and bloating are normal. Once home, follow any instructions you have been given. If you had sedation, do not drive, operate machinery, or make major decisions until the next day.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chest pain

  • Dark-colored stools

  • Severe abdominal pain that doesn't go away when passing gas

  • Sore throat that doesn’t go away

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Vomiting, especially with blood

  • Any other signs or symptoms indicated by your healthcare provider

Follow-up

If you had a biopsy, the results will be ready in about 7 days. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about any more testing or treatment that is needed.

Risks and possible complications include:

  • Sore throat or hoarseness

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Allergic reaction to the sedative or numbing medicine

  • Bleeding during or after the procedure

  • Too much bleeding from the biopsy site (if a biopsy is done)

  • A hole or tear (perforation) in the lining of the digestive tract

  • Inhaling food or fluid into the lungs (aspiration)

  • Irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest in someone with heart or lung disease

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