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Upper endoscopy, also known as EGD, is a procedure in which a thin scope with a light and camera at its tip is used to look inside the upper digestive tract -- the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine called the duodenum.

What is an Upper Endoscopy?

Why is an ERCP performed?

A doctor may recommend ERCP if you have symptoms such as jaundice or unexplained abdominal pain, which may be an indication of a blockage, tumor, or other problem with your ducts. Doctors generally recommend ERCP only when they suspect they’ll be able to treat the problem at the same time as it’s diagnosed.


The procedure is commonly used to help identify the causes of:

  • Abdominal or chest pain

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Heartburn

  • Bleeding

  • Swallowing problems


Endoscopy can also help identify inflammation, ulcers, and tumors.

What is the procedure like?

Usually performed as an outpatient procedure, upper endoscopy sometimes must be performed in the hospital or emergency room to both identify and treat conditions such as upper digestive system bleeding.

Upper endoscopy is more accurate than X-rays for detecting abnormal growths such as cancer and for examining the inside of the upper digestive system. In addition, abnormalities can be treated through the endoscope.

For example, Polyps (growths of tissue in the stomach) can be identified and removed, and tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken for analysis.


Narrowed areas or strictures of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum from cancer or other diseases can be dilated or stretched using balloons or other devices. In some cases, a stent (a wire or plastic mesh tube) can be put in the stricture to prop it open. Objects stuck in the esophagus or stomach can be removed. Bleeding due to ulcers, cancer, or varices can be treated.

What happens after the procedure?

After the endoscopy is complete, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where you’ll be monitored for about 1 to 2 hoursTrusted Source as the effects of the sedative wear off. You’ll then be able to return home.

When you leave the medical facility, you’ll get instructions on how to care for yourself at home. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully and ask questions if you have them.

The numbing medication used during your endoscopy inhibits your gag reflex. To lower the risk of choking, you’ll be instructed not to eat or drink anything until this medication wears off and you can swallow as usual again.

Having bloating or cramping for a short time is typical. This is due to the air that’s blown through the endoscope during the procedure. You may also have a sore throat due to the endoscope, but this typically only lasts for a couple of days.

When the results of your endoscopy are ready, your doctor will want to go over them with you. Your results may be available on the same day as your procedure. If not, your doctor will contact you at a later date to discuss them.


The bottom line


An upper GI endoscopy is an outpatient procedure with very few risks. To make sure your procedure goes smoothly, be sure to carefully follow all of your doctor’s preparation and aftercare instructions.

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