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Upper Endoscopy Preparation Instructions:
Procedure: Upper GI endoscopy, sometimes called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), is a visual examination of the upper intestinal tract using a lighted, flexible fiberoptic or video endoscope, which is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The throat is often anesthetized by a spray or liquid. Intravenous sedation is usually given to relax the patient, deaden the gag reflex and cause short-term amnesia. For some individuals who can relax on their own and whose gagging can be controlled, the exam is done without intravenous medications. The endoscope is then gently inserted into the upper esophagus. The patient can breathe easily throughout the exam. Other instruments can be passed through the endoscope to perform additional procedures if necessary. For example, a biopsy can be done in which a small tissue specimen is obtained for microscopic analysis. A polyp or tumor can be removed using a thin wire snare and electrocautery (electrical heat). The exam takes from 15 to 30 minutes, after which the patient is taken to the recovery area. There is no pain with the procedure and patients seldom remember much about it. Benefits: An upper GI endoscopy is performed primarily to identify and/or correct a problem in the upper gastrointestinal tract. This means the test enables a diagnosis to be made upon which specific treatment can be given. If a bleeding site is identified, treatment can stop the bleeding, or if a polyp is found, it can be removed without a major operation. Other treatments can be given through the endoscope when necessary.
Risks: A temporary, mild throat irritation sometimes occurs after the exam. Serious risks with upper GI endoscopy, however, are very uncommon. One such risk is excessive bleeding, especially with removal of a large polyp. In extremely rare instances, a perforation, or tear, in the esophagus or stomach wall can occur. These complications may require hospitalization and, rarely, surgery. Quite uncommonly, a diagnostic error or oversight may occur. Due to the mild sedation, the patient should not drive or operate machinery following the exam. For this reason, someone else should be available to drive the patient home.
Alternatives: Alternative tests to upper GI endoscopy include a barium x-ray and ultrasound (sonogram) to study the organs in the upper abdomen. Study of the stools, blood and stomach juice can provide indirect information about a gastrointestinal condition. These exams, however, do not allow for a direct viewing of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, removing of polyps or taking of biopsies.