5 Common Treatments Your Doctor Can Perform During Upper GI Endoscopy

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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An upper GI endoscopy is a procedure that can treat diseases and conditions of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine (duodenum). Another name for it is upper endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Doctors use this minimally invasive procedure to treat problems that affect the lining of these organs or block the passage of food. It often eliminates the need for surgery.  

An upper GI endoscopy involves swallowing a thin, flexible instrument called an endoscope. The endoscope contains a light and camera that sends pictures to a computer screen. This allows doctors to see the inside of the upper GI tract as they pass special tools through the endoscope to perform treatments.  

Here are five common treatments doctors perform with upper GI endoscopy.  

1. Treat an Ulcer

Your doctor can find and treat ulcers with upper GI endoscopy. Inflammation of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum can cause erosion and ulcers. Ulcers, mostly commonly stomach (peptic) ulcers, can bleed. Doctors inject medicine into the ulcer through the endoscope. Ulcers can also be cauterized with electrical heat through a special tube (catheter) at the end of the endoscope.

2. Remove Abnormal Tissue 

Barrett’s esophagus is a common cause of abnormal tissue. The abnormal cells in people with Barrett’s esophagus can lead to cancer. Doctors can find and remove the abnormal tissue during endoscopy. An upper GI endoscopy can also be used to remove stomach polyps and adenomas. These masses can become cancerous over time if left untreated in the stomach. 

3. Widen an Esophageal Stricture 

An esophageal stricture is a narrowing of the esophagus. It blocks the normal passage of food and liquids into the stomach. Your doctor can widen or stretch (dilate) the esophagus during upper GI endoscopy. The doctor passes a special balloon dilator through the endoscope. The balloon inflates and widens the esophagus.

4. Treat Esophageal Varices

Esophageal varices are enlarged veins that can rupture and bleed. They can cause life-threatening bleeding. Your doctor can prevent or stop bleeding during endoscopy by passing special tools through the endoscope. The tools use energy to burn (cauterize) the varices. Doctors can also inject the veins with medicine (sclerotherapy) to shrink them or tie them off with special elastic bands (ligation).  

5. Remove a Foreign Object 

When someone swallows a foreign object, they usually pass it through the entire digestive system without a problem. But sometimes the object sticks in the esophagus or lodges farther down the digestive tract. Small batteries and coins are common culprits. Foreign objects can cause organ injury, blockage, and other serious problems. An upper GI endoscopy can remove foreign objects stuck in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. Doctors put special forceps, a loop, or a basket device through the endoscope. The device grasps or traps the object and the doctor gently pulls it out.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 9
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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