Upper Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure. It is used to view and examine the upper digestive system of an individual who is suspected of any disease related to the gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) tract. In medical terms, it is also known as EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy).

To be more specific, this test lets the doctor analyze the lining of the upper part of the esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and intestines. An upper endoscopy is usually done by a gastroenterologist, a medical practitioner qualified to examine gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. However, many other specialists can also initiate this procedure.

The tool used to carry out this process is known as an Endoscope. It is an illuminated and tubular instrument that comprises a small camera at one end to look inside the body.

Why it’s done

An upper endoscopy is used to investigate, diagnose, and treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, and first part small intestine (duodenum). Majorly, your physician may recommend an upper endoscopy to:

  • Investigate symptoms
    If you are suffering from symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal bleeding, your doctor may prescribe this test to investigate the condition and find its cause.
  • Diagnose
    Sometimes, endoscopy is prescribed after conducting tests like X-Ray or CT Scan of a suspected area. In such a condition, an upper endoscopy may be used to diagnose cancer. This is also referred to as an endoscopic biopsy wherein tissues are extracted from a part of the suspected organ.
  • Treat
    Besides detecting or examination, an endoscopy can be used to transport special tools inside the body. More specifically, a doctor may recommend an upper endoscopy to treat problems in the digestive system. For example, a bleeding vessel can be burnt using an endoscope to stop internal bleeding, a narrow esophagus can be widened, and a foreign element can be removed from the stomach.

To find the cause of symptoms

An upper endoscopy is mainly recommended to patients who are experiencing symptoms like:

  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper belly pain
  • Chest pain (that is not heart-related)
  • Vomiting for an unknown reason
  • Bleeding in the upper GI tract

To diagnose diseases

This test is recommended to patients who are suspected of having any of these diseases:

  • Stomach acid problems (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Swelling in the intestines (narrowing or blockages)
  • Increase in the size of veins in the food pipe
  • Redness and swelling (inflammation or ulcers)
  • Cancerous or non-cancerous tumors
  • The stomach moving upward (hiatal hernia)
  • Damage caused by consuming very harmful (chemicals) substances
  • A disease caused by eating an excess of gluten (Celiac disease)
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract (Crohn's disease)
  • Infections of the GI tract

To treat problems in the GI tract

The procedure may be used by the doctor to treat certain problems in the gastrointestinal tract. They may include:

  • Control bleeding
  • Remove tumors or growths
  • Open narrowed areas
  • Remove small objects that may be stuck
  • Perform laser therapy


Furthermore, an upper endoscopy gives proper access to view certain parts of the gastrointestinal tract that are otherwise not visible through other imaging tests. New technologies have introduced endoscopes that provide clearer images by using high-definition video. During colon cancer treatment, the oncologist may prescribe regular screenings via such processes.

How it’s done

The procedure is carried out step-by-step as per the doctor’s command. Surprisingly, an individual who undergoes upper endoscopy doesn’t feel any pain or problem during the process.

Before the Procedure

Certain instructions will be given by your doctor to avoid complications during the procedure. These include:

  • Stop drinking or eating for about four to seven hours prior to the procedure. Your stomach must be empty during the upper endoscopy.
  • If you are undergoing colorectal cancer treatment or other therapy, make sure to inform your doctor.
  • For a few days before the procedure, stop taking medicines like blood thinners. If you have diabetes or any other chronic disease, your doctor will recommend the necessary dose adjustments.

During the Procedure

During the upper endoscopy procedure, your doctor will ask you to lie down (either on your back or side) on a table.

  • Attaching the monitors
    Your doctor will attach the monitors to keep a check on your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.
  • Administering a sedative
    Sometimes, an individual panics during the procedure. To avoid this, a sedative will be given to you through an intravenous route (into a vein) to relax.
  • Spraying an anesthetic
    Since the endoscope is inserted through your mouth, your doctor may spray an anesthetic in your throat to numb the area and pave the way for the instrument.
  • Inserting an endoscope
    Your doctor will then ask you to wear a mouthguard in order to keep your mouth wide open for the insertion of an endoscope. You might feel little pressure in your mouth and throat. However, most patients do not experience any sensation due to a strong dose of anesthesia.

Doctor Examines the Images

Once the endoscope passes down your throat, you can not talk. Significantly, the procedure doesn’t influence your breathing. Moreover, as the endoscope reaches down your esophagus, the camera comes into action.

  • In the exam room, the tiny camera at the end of the tube transmits the pictures to a video monitor. This monitor is mainly used to view visible abnormalities like swelling in a specific region, change in the acidic properties, formation of lumps (ulcers or cancer), and internal bleeding.
  • Also, air pressure may be given to your esophagus so that the digestive tract widens and the endoscope can move freely.
  • If the procedure is undertaken to collect tissue samples, special surgical tools may be passed through the endoscope.

After the Endoscopy

Your doctor will ask you to sit in a recovery area for some time. This is done to check if the individual is comfortable after the procedure or not. Gradually, the sedative you were given starts to wear off. Once you reach back home, you may experience:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Cramping
  • Sore throat

These reactions will ease with time. However, consult your doctor if they get worse.


After the procedure and the recovery period, your doctor will let you know about the results.

  • If you had an upper endoscopy as a part of a cancer diagnosis, the result may take time. This is because biopsy samples are examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
  • If you had an upper endoscopy as a part of the ulcer or GI tract disease diagnosis, the result may be disclosed right after the procedure. This is because the doctor examines the images on the monitor and looks for abnormalities like swelling in a specific region, change in the acidic properties, formation of lumps, and internal bleeding.


Note: This article is for informative purposes. Do not consider any advice or tip as a substitute for your doctor’s prescription. It is necessary to contact a qualified doctor for specific conditions.