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What Is an Upper Endoscopy?

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An upper endoscopy, or an EGD, is a diagnostic test in which a thin tube (called an endoscope) with a light tiny camera at the end is used to examine your upper digestive tract. The examination will analyze the esophagus, stomach, and the uppermost part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. An upper endoscopy can be used to discover the causes of many issues, including abdominal or chest pain, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, bleeding, swallowing problems, and can be used to identify inflammation, ulcers, and tumors.

An endoscopy will give a clearer view of the inside of the digestive tract than an x-ray or CT scan, and is more useful for diagnosing cancers. An endoscope can also be used to perform some procedures. Polyps can be removed and tissue samples taken, blocked passages can be cleared, and bleeding from an ulcer or cancer can be stopped.

During an endoscopy, you will wear a hospital gown and lay on your left side. If you wear glasses or dentures, you will be asked to remove them. To minimize discomfort during the examination, a local anesthetic may be applied to the back of your throat, and you will be given an intravenous sedative and pain reliever. From there, the doctor will insert the endoscope into your mouth and down through the esophagus. Most endoscopies only last 15-20 minutes.

Most of the time, endoscopies are outpatient treatments. Because of the sedatives, however, you will not be able to drive home after the procedure and will be drowsy and unable to drive for the next eight hours. Your throat may feel sore afterwards. After you are released, your gastroenterologist will send the test results to your primary care doctor so that the next steps in your healthcare can be planned.

An upper endoscopy is a safe diagnostic tool to help get a clearer understanding of the conditions in your upper digestive tract. While it is not the most pleasurable activity, it is nothing to be afraid of. If you have an appointment for one coming up, rest assured that your gastroenterologist will do everything he can to make the process as comfortable and unintimidating as possible.

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