An Introduction to the EGD Procedure.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD for short, is a procedure used by your doctor to gain more information about your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Your doctor can look at the insides of these structures by placing an endoscope (a small, bendable tube that acts like a video camera) into your throat. If any unusual growths or foreign bodies are found by your doctor, the endoscope may also be used to treat them.
EGD is also called an upper endoscopy.
Beginning the EGD Procedure
When you are ready, medication may be given through your IV to make you sleepy and relaxed.
In order to make this examination more comfortable, your healthcare provider may spray a numbing medication into the back on your throat, or you may gargle with it. This may taste slightly bitter and will make your mouth and throat numb for approximately 30 minutes. Then you will be positioned on your left side.
During and EGD procedure, your doctor will use an endoscope. The endoscope is a long, soft, bendable tube. This instrument acts as a camera and allows your doctor to view the inside of your digestive system on a video screen. It can also take pictures and videotape the procedure.
A small plastic mouthpiece or guard will be put into your mouth to protect your teeth when the tube is slowly placed into your esophagus (or food pipe), and to keep you from accidentally biting the tube.
In order to help relax the muscles in the back of your throat and help open the passageway, you will need to take slow, deep breaths. You will then be instructed to put your chin to your chest and open your mouth. As the doctor begins to push the tube in, you will be asked to swallow. Swallowing makes the tube go down more easily. You may experience some gagging or nausea during the tube placement into your esophagus – this is normal.
Examining the Esophagus, Stomach, and Intestines
Once the endoscope is inside, your doctor will examine your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. To better see this area, these structures may be gently filled with a small quantity of air through the endoscope. While this air may cause you to feel full, it should not be painful.
During the EGD procedure, your saliva may be suctioned from your mouth using a small plastic tube similar to the ones used by a dentist.
Procedures During and EGD
Depending on what is found during the endoscopy, your doctor may perform several procedures through the endoscope. A photograph, biopsy, or cytology may be taken. A biopsy involves taking a small sample of tissue, and cytology is a brushing of cells. Other procedures that may be performed include stretching narrowed areas of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum; removing polyps and swallowed objects; or treating bleeding vessels and ulcers.
If your doctor finds a narrowed area, it may be possible to dilate or widen this narrowed section, or “stricture,” with a dilator. Your doctor has two options for doing this.
The first is balloon dilation. During this procedure, your doctor inserts a special balloon-tipped catheter through the endoscope and guides it to the narrowed area. Once the balloon catheter is correctly placed, it can be inflated and deflated several times to increase the size of the narrowed area. The balloon catheter is then removed.
The second option is to use plastic tube dilators. With this method, a guide wire is passed through the endoscope into a narrowed area. Then progressively larger dilators are passed over the guide wire to dilate the narrowed area.