8 Things to Know About Upper GI Endoscopy

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Catherine Spader on September 20, 2020
  • Slide 1: 9 Things You Should Know About Endoscopy
    1. Upper GI endoscopy is a close up view of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
    An upper GI endoscopy is a procedure to see inside your esophagus, stomach, and the beginning part of the small intestine (duodenum). The endoscope is a tube with a special type of camera that sends pictures of the lining of your gastrointestinal tract to a video screen. Another name for the procedure is esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).
  • Slide 2: 9 Things You Should Know About Endoscopy
    2. Upper GI endoscopy is a diagnostic tool.
    If you have heartburn or stomach pain, your doctor will likely recommend some simple treatments, such as changing your diet. If that doesn’t help, or you have more severe symptoms, such as vomiting blood or swallowing problems, your doctor may want to do an upper GI endoscopy. An upper GI endoscopy can diagnose many conditions, including GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), ulcers, and esophageal varices. Esophageal varices are swollen veins that can bleed.
  • Doctor and patient during endoscopy exam
    3. Upper GI endoscopy can eliminate the need for surgery.
    Endoscopy is a minimally invasive way to treat certain conditions that affect the lining of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Doctors can control bleeding ulcers, remove foreign objects, perform a biopsy, and widen a narrow esophagus or small intestine. They can also treat esophageal varices by tying off the veins or applying medicine to shrink them.
  • Group of doctors
    4. Gastroenterologists perform upper GI endoscopy.
    Several types of doctors perform upper GI endoscopy, but gastroenterologists perform most of them. Gastroenterologists focus on problems of the digestive tract. Pediatric gastroenterologists perform endoscopy in children. General surgeons and pediatric surgeons may perform them as well. Ask your primary care doctor for a referral. If you don’t have a referral, search for a gastroenterologist at Healthgrades.com.
  • Woman on phone with laptop on lap
    5. You may need to go to a specific facility for full insurance coverage.
    Upper GI endoscopy is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. Call your insurance provider before the procedure to ensure your coverage. Ask if you have a copay or deductible. Upper GI endoscopy is done in a doctor's office, outpatient surgery center, or hospital. However, your insurance may require you to go to a specific facility. Talk to your insurance provider ahead of time and ask for a list of in-network facilities.
  • Female patient at front desk in doctors office
    6. You won’t be able to eat or drink before the procedure.
    The endoscopy facility where you have the procedure will likely give you detailed instructions about preparation for endoscopy. Follow your doctor’s instructions about eating, drinking and taking your medication. This often includes not eating or drinking anything for eight hours before your procedure. You will also likely stop taking blood thinners. You will have sedation during the procedure, so arrange for a ride home. Someone should stay with you for the first day or so because you may still be drowsy.
  • Laryngitis
    7. Your throat will be numb as the endoscope passes into your esophagus.
    Your treatment team will spray an anesthetic in your throat to keep you comfortable and pain-free. Your doctor inserts the endoscope gently into your mouth or nose. It will slide down your throat and into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The pictures from the endoscope show up on a video screen. Your doctor will examine these areas and may perform treatments or take a tissue sample (biopsy) for testing.
  • Women shaking doctor's hand
    8. You’ll likely go home the same day of the procedure.
    An upper GI endoscopy is minimally invasive and does not require incisions. People often go home the same day of the procedure. Problems with an upper GI endoscopy are not common but include bleeding, infection, and a reaction to the throat spray or sedative. Endoscopy can also cause difficulty swallowing and damage to the digestive tract. Ask your doctor about your specific risks and how you can help prevent problems. Keep in mind the more experience your doctor has in performing upper GI endoscopy, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications.
8 Things to Know About Upper GI Endoscopy
Upper GI Endoscopy

About The Author

  1. Endoscopic Therapy May Offer An Alternative To Surgery In Patients With Esophageal Cancer. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006092650.htm
  2. Esophageal Cancer Screening (PDQ)–Patient Version. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/esophageal/patient/esophageal-screening-pdq#section/all
  3. Upper Endoscopy Patient Information. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. http://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-upper-endoscopy-from-sages/
  4. Shaheen NJ, et al. Radiofrequency Ablation in Barrett's Esophagus with Dysplasia. N Engl J Med 2009;360:2277-2288.
  5. Upper Endoscopy (EGD) – Prep Instructions. University of Michigan Health System. http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/umegd.htm
  6. Upper GI Endoscopy. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diagnostic-tests/upper-gi-endoscopy/Pages/diagnostic-test.aspx
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 20
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.