An esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is an endoscopic procedure that helps doctors to diagnose and treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The procedure involves using an endoscope, a camera that attaches to a thin tube.

An EGD can detect changes, abnormalities, or blockages in the upper GI tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and upper section of the small intestine.

This article describes what an EGD procedure is, what it looks for, and how it differs from other types of endoscopy. We also outline what happens before, during, and after the procedure and discuss the possible risks and complications.

A doctor preparing for an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.Share on Pinterest
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An EGD involves using an instrument called an endoscope to examine the upper GI tract. An endoscope is a thin tube that attaches to a tiny camera.

The procedure involves passing the endoscope through the mouth and down into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The duodenum is the upper section of the small intestine.

During an EGD procedure, a doctor may insert tiny medical instruments through the endoscope to take tissue biopsies or help treat upper GI bleeding or blockages.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) explains that EGD is one type of endoscopic procedure that allows doctors to view the upper GI tract.

Learn more about endoscopy here.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), other types of endoscopy procedures include:

  • Colonoscopy: A doctor inserts the endoscope into the rectum to check for changes or abnormalities in the colon.
  • Colposcopy: A doctor inserts the endoscope into the vagina to check for changes or abnormalities in the cervix. A person may undergo this procedure if cervical screening indicates abnormalities with the cervical cells.
  • Hysteroscopy: A doctor inserts the endoscope into the vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus to check for any changes inside the womb. A doctor may recommend this procedure to help determine the cause of the following symptoms:
  • Cystoscopy: A doctor inserts the endoscope into the urethra and the bladder to check for issues.

An EGD procedure may help doctors diagnose and treat conditions of the upper digestive tract.

What symptoms suggest a person needs one?

Symptoms that indicate that a person may need to undergo an EGD procedure include:

What does it look for?

An ECG procedure looks for changes or abnormalities within the upper GI tract. Such changes may include:

  • inflammation
  • dilated blood vessels
  • abscesses
  • ulcers
  • growths or tumors
  • foreign objects

The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that doctors may perform an EGD procedure to investigate an area that appears suspicious on an X-ray or CT scan.

What can it diagnose?

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains that an EGD can help doctors diagnose the following GI conditions:

Procedures it can help with

The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) states that doctors may use an EGD to help with the following:

  • controlling bleeding
  • widening narrowed sections of the GI tract
  • removing tumors or foreign objects
  • checking if a person’s body is responding well to treatment

The ACG states that a person will receive instructions from their doctor before undergoing an EGD procedure. In many cases, a doctor may advise someone to avoid eating or drinking 6–8 hours before the procedure. They may also instruct a person to stop taking certain medications.

The ACS suggests that people let their medical team know if they are taking any supplements or vitamins or are allergic to any medications.

A person will likely be under sedation for the EGD, meaning they may need time to become fully alert again. Therefore, they should arrange for someone else to drive them back home after the procedure.

An EGD is usually an outpatient procedure and takes about 15–30 minutes, though it may take longer in some cases. Additionally, a person should allow a few extra hours due to preparation time and recovery from sedation.

The following is what typically happens during an EGD procedure:

  1. The care team asks the individual to remove their clothing and change into a gown. People who wear dentures may also have to remove them before the procedure.
  2. A medical professional administers a sedative medication through an IV line into the veins. They then note the person’s vital signs, including:
  3. A doctor may spray numbing medication at the back of the person’s throat to help prevent gagging when inserting the endoscope. They may also use a mouthpiece to help keep the mouth open during the procedure.
  4. The doctor then guides the endoscope into the esophagus, through the stomach and into the first part of the small intestine, and then back through. They may also take fluid or tissue samples if necessary.

Following the procedure, the healthcare team will transfer the person to the recovery area. Healthcare professionals may allow them to return home once their vital signs are stable and they are awake and alert.

A doctor will usually instruct a person to avoid eating or drinking until their gag reflex returns to reduce any risk of choking.

For the first few days following the procedure, individuals may experience a sore throat when swallowing. Over-the-counter pain relief should help alleviate any throat pain, though people should check with their doctor that these are safe to use.

The risk of complications during or following an EGD procedure is low. However, the NIDDK notes that people may experience the following:

  • bleeding from biopsy areas
  • perforation of the lining of the upper GI tract
  • adverse effects, such as breathing and heart problems, from the sedation medication

Those who experience a reaction to sedatives may receive additional medications or IV fluids during or after the procedure.

The NIDDK also advises people to seek immediate medical help if they develop any of the following symptoms during or after an EGD procedure:

A surgeon may discuss diagnostic results on the same day as the EGD procedure. Alternatively, they may schedule another appointment, especially if they need to await the results of a biopsy.

The NIDDK explains that biopsy results are usually available within a few days.

An EGD procedure is an endoscopic procedure that allows a doctor to diagnose and treat conditions of the upper GI tract.

Doctors may recommend an EGD procedure to help determine the cause of GI symptoms, such as chronic heartburn, nausea and vomiting, and unexplained weight loss. An EGD is typically an outpatient procedure requiring sedation.

Most people will experience a sore throat following the procedure. Other, less common complications include perforation of the upper GI tract, bleeding, and complications from the sedative. A person can speak with their doctor for further information about the risks and benefits of an EGD.