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What is an Upper Endoscopy?

What is an Upper Endoscopy?

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Upper endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine). Your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, and will view the images on a video monitor. You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to upper endoscopy as upper GI endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or panendoscopy.

Upper endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It’s the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It’s also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

Your doctor might use upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy (small tissue samples). A biopsy helps your doctor distinguish between benign and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Remember, biopsies are taken for many reasons, and your doctor might order one even if he or she does not suspect cancer. For example, your doctor might use a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers.

Your doctor might also use upper endoscopy to perform a cytology test, where he or she will introduce a small brush to collect cells for analysis.

Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor can pass instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities – this will cause you little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor might stretch (dilate) a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding.

Although complications can occur, they are rare when doctors who are specially trained and experienced in this procedure perform the test. Bleeding can occur at a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed, but it’s usually minimal and rarely requires follow-up. Perforation (a hole or tear in the gastrointestinal tract lining) may require surgery but this is a very uncommon complication. Some patients might have a reaction to the sedatives or complications from heart or lung disease.

Although complications after upper endoscopy are very uncommon, it’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever after the test or if you notice trouble swallowing or increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, or bleeding, including black stools. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure.

If you have any concerns about a possible complication, it is always best to contact your doctor right away.

NOTE: This information is intended only to provide general guidance. It does not provide definitive medical advice. It is very important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition. Please find out more at http://www.asge.org/patients/patients.aspx?id=378

Dr. Jeffrey Crespin, MD

Dr. Crespin has been a practicing gastroenterologist in Manhattan for over ten years. Dr Crespin is a board certified gastroenterologist, who strives to provide the highest quality medical care and services in a compassionate, professional and personalized manner.

© 2016 Copyright by Jeffrey Crespin, MD. All rights reserved.