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Upper Endoscopy Procedure [EGD]: What is it and What’s it Like?

March 1, 2023

The human body miraculously knows just what to do and when to do it.

Your heart beats on its own, your lungs draw in air and push out carbon dioxide without any intentional effort on your behalf, and your food goes through your body, nutrients absorbed, and waste removed without much conscious instruction.

But sometimes, those bodily processes can get out of whack. When there is pain or disruption in automatic functioning like swallowing and digestion, it grabs our attention. Luckily, today’s technology allows doctors to see what’s happening inside the body without the use of a scalpel.


In this blog, we’ll talk about one way to look inside the body called an EGD. Find out:

  • What is an EGD?
  • When do you need an EGD?
  • What is an EGD like?
  • What happens after an EGD?

What is an EGD?

EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) is a medical procedure used to examine your esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine (duodenum). During an EGD, a special tool called an endoscope is used to examine the upper GI tract. An endoscope is a soft, flexible tube with a camera attached to the end.

At the start of the EGD procedure, the endoscope enters the body through the mouth for visual inspection of the upper GI tract. This helps doctors identify any ulcers, irritation, or bleeding that may be the cause of your discomfort. Some endoscopes are even equipped with accessories for collecting biopsies (tissue samples) so that they can be sent to the lab for further analysis.

An EGD can also double as a treatment for some upper GI concerns. Some endoscopes are capable of cauterizing bleeds or removing polyps (small growths) during the procedure.

When Do You Need an EGD?

Since an EGD is a diagnostic procedure, you only need it if you’re having symptoms of an illness in the upper digestive tract. Here are some common problems that warrant a closer look through EGD:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Heartburn
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Vomiting blood

Your doctor will help determine whether an EGD is necessary to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. If you’re experiencing the above symptoms or struggling to manage a digestive condition, My Virtual Physician can help. Reach out to our doctors today for a virtual appointment.

If you’re already scheduled for an EGD, you may be wondering what the experience will be like. We’ll cover that next.

What is an EGD like?

It sounds pretty uncomfortable to have someone poking around inside you with a tube down your throat during the EGD procedure. Luckily, you will be under mild sedation as an outpatient procedure, allowing your experience to be very relaxed and pleasant (but still awake).

Before coming in for your EGD, your doctor will provide instructions to prep for the procedure. It’s very important to avoid eating or drinking before your procedure so that you do not aspirate. Aspiration is when your stomach contents are inhaled into your lungs. Aspiration can lead to very serious health problems like pneumonia or even death.

When you arrive at the clinic or hospital for your EG, here’s what will go down:

  1. Change into a gown
  2. Have your vitals taken
  3. Speak with the nurse, endoscopist, and anesthesiologist
  4. Partial sedation medication is given by IV
  5. Endoscopist performs the procedure (you won’t remember this part)
  6. Go to recovery for an hour
  7. Have someone drive you home

If you want to learn more about the endoscopy from a doctor’s perspective while you’re in the procedure room zoned out, check out our Talk Tuesday episode below on EGD:

What Happens After an EGD?

Immediately after your EGD, you should closely monitor your body for signs of infection, bleeding, or perforation. Since an EGD has an inherent risk of serious complications if the endoscope perforates your upper GI tract, it’s critical to go to the ER (or at least speak with a doctor) if you have any of these serious symptoms after the procedure:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Firm and distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Severe throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Crunchy sensation in the neck
  • Black stools

About two weeks after your EGD, you’ll have a follow-up appointment with your doctor to go over the findings. If any biopsies were taken, you’ll get results during your follow-up appointment or sooner. In some cases, your doctor may have been able to treat the cause of your symptoms from the EGD alone. If not,  your doctor will make recommendations on the next steps required to restore your health.

My Virtual Physician’s Doctors Can Help

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, talk to a specialist at My Virtual Physician for help. Our virtual appointments are easy, affordable, and convenient. And our team of doctors is passionate about helping you get well. We can help you decide whether an EGD is the best route to take or if there are alternative solutions to try first.

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