What is an “upper endoscopy procedure”?
The full technical name for an upper endoscopy procedure is esophagogastroduodenoscopy, which is typically abbreviated EGD. This study provides a visual evaluation of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The duodenum is the very first part of the intestine located just beyond the outlet of the stomach. This procedure is used to determine if there is a visual explanation for a person’s symptoms, as well as to eliminate the possibility of other visible problems, such as stomach conditions and various disorders of the esophagus, including GERD. This essential test “rules out” many conditions that would be very important recognize; however, about 80% of those with GERD have normal EGD’s. EGD is not very good at making the definitive diagnosis of GERD. While it is a useful test, but it must be clearly understood what it can and can’t do. It’s use alone as a tool for diagnosing GERD, which is often the case, represents an incomplete and inadequate evaluation.
How is the test conducted?
If you have an EGD, you will be heavily sedated. As a result, the procedure is painless, and you will have no recollection of the test after it is completed. A special scope with a tiny camera will be passed passed through your mouth and transmits images to a video monitor, allowing your physician to visually inspect the stomach, esophagus, and duodenum. The study usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete, although it may be longer in some cases. After the procedure is complete, you will wake up from sedation very quickly. However, you will not be able to drive and should rest at home for 24 hours. You can resume normal activities, including driving and returning to work, the next day if there are no side effects or residual discomfort.
Are there any risks associated with an EGD?
While no test is completely risk-free, however the risks associated with an upper endoscopy procedure are extremely minimal. Risk do include the potential for the scope to perforate the membrane of the esophagus, unexpected adverse reaction to the sedative, and if a biopsy of the esophagus is taken, there is a possibility of bleeding at the biopsy points. According to the NIH, serious complications only occur in one of every 1,000 procedures, and your physician may be required to treat some of these complications.
When will I know the results?
You will usually be informed of the results during a visit to the physician’s office scheduled after an upper endoscopy procedure. In some settings, results are told to family members immediately upon the conclusion of the procedure.
Remember that most likely your upper endoscopy procedure will be “normal.” Although reassuring, it usually does not provide the answer to the question whether or not you have GERD. For more information on an upper endoscopy procedure, we encourage you to read the patient information provided by the Mayo Clinic.
Reviewed by: Dr. Dengler, RefluxMD Medical Director