Has your doctor ordered an endoscopy? Learn more about this procedure – which may also be called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, EGD, or upper endoscopy – and what you can expect.

What is an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to examine the upper portion of your digestive system, including your esophagus, stomach, and the beginning of your small intestine.

An endoscope, which is a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light attached to the end of it, is used to perform a visual examination inside your body. The endoscope is placed into your mouth, down your throat, and down into your stomach. The camera then transmits and records an image onto a screen in the exam room.

Before the procedure, you’ll be asked to lie down on a table on your back. You may be given a mild sedative as well as have an anesthetic sprayed into your mouth and throat. When the tube is inserted, you’ll likely be asked to swallow to help it pass into your esophagus.

You may feel some pressure from the tubing, but the procedure should not be painful. The entire examination should take no more than 20 minutes.

Why are you having an endoscopy?

An endoscopy allows a doctor to see the inner lining of your esophagus and stomach. This might be recommended if you suffer from frequent heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal bleeding. During an endoscopy, a doctor can also take tissue samples and administer certain treatments for digestive tract disorders.

Are there any risks associated with an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is considered a safe, generally non-invasive procedure used primarily for diagnostic purposes. You may feel some initial discomfort after the exam, including bloating, cramping, or a sore throat. These symptoms can usually be treated with pain relievers if they don’t resolve on their own in a short amount of time.

In very rare cases, more serious complications can occur during or after an endoscopy, including bleeding, infection, or tearing of the gastrointestinal tract. Tell your doctor if you experience fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, dark stool, difficulty swallowing, severe abdominal pain, or vomiting, as these may be signs of complications.