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What can I expect if my doctor orders an endoscopy?

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Updated August 05, 2010

Photo by Keith Brofsky (Getty Images)
Photo: Keith Brofsky / Getty Images
Question: What can I expect if my doctor orders an endoscopy?
Answer: The following is what most often occurs before, during, and after an upper endoscopy. This procedure is also called an EGD (esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy).
  • The patient is not to eat anything for at least six hours before the procedure.

  • A local anesthetic will be sprayed into the patient's throat to suppress the gag reflex, and an intravenous sedative will be given to help the patient relax.

  • The endoscope is then slowly passed into the patient's mouth and down the esophagus. The scope will not interfere with breathing. Most patients do not experience discomfort during the procedure, and many have limited to no recollection of procedure because of the anesthesia.

  • Once the endoscope is in place, the doctor will be able to examine the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, and detect any abnormalities. Other instruments can be inserted through the endoscope tube, which will allow the doctor to perform biopsies if necessary.

  • The patient may experience a mild sore throat for a few days after the procedure, if at all.

  • If complications (such as vomiting a large amount of blood or severe stomach pains) occur, the doctor should be notified immediately.

Sources:

"Heartburn? Could It Be GERD? Understanding Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)" AN417/AGA/GERD/Booklet 12/3/03. American Gastroenterological Association. Accessed on 3 Mar 2009.

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