An upper endoscopy procedure, also referred to as an EGD, can help detect and evaluate certain digestive conditions, including GERD and celiac disease. The procedure typically takes 10 to 20 minutes, during which you will be sedated to prevent you from feeling any discomfort. The experience is similar to taking a restful nap and many patients have no memory of the procedure. During the procedure, your physician will insert an endoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera at its tip) through your mouth and down your throat to look for abnormalities inside your upper digestive system (the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine). Most patients experience very few side effects or downtime following their EGD and can resume normal activities in a matter of hours. You may not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of the sedative, so please plan accordingly.
What to Expect
Knowing what to expect can help take the stress out of any procedure. Here's what you can expect during an upper GI endoscopy procedure.
You will be given a sedative and a local anesthetic may be sprayed into your mouth to make you more comfortable during the procedure and to ease the insertion of the endoscope. A mouth guard will be inserted to protect your teeth. If you wear dentures, you will be asked to remove them during the procedure. You will receive an IV to administer the sedation and any other medications that may be needed.
You will lie on your left side, and after the sedative has taken effect, the procedure will begin. Air will be introduced through the endoscope to enhance the physician's view of the lining of the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine. If necessary, biopsies of any abnormalities can be performed during the procedure.
The typical procedure lasts 10-20 minutes. The administration of sedation should prevent you from feeling any discomfort, even when biopsies are necessary. Some individuals have no memory of the test at all. Shortly after your procedure is completed, you should be able to drink fluids without much difficulty.
How to Prepare
Proper preparation is necessary when you undergo an upper GI endoscopy. The following guidelines are representative of a typical preparation for EGD, however, individual instructions may vary and patients should follow the instructions provided by their doctor. This procedure requires an empty stomach so you will be instructed not to eat solid foods 6-12 hours prior to your appointment time AND to have nothing by mouth 4-6 hours prior to your appointment time, this includes eating, drinking, smoking and chewing. You may also be instructed to stop taking any blood-thinning medications, including aspirin, for several days before the test. Because you will be sedated during the procedure, you will need to arrange for someone to take you home. You may be given additional instructions prior to your procedure.