An esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), which is also known as an upper endoscopy or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, is a diagnostic procedure that is performed to view the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (part of the small intestine). In an EGD, the doctor uses an endoscope, a flexible, tube-like, telescopic instrument with a tiny camera mounted at its tip, to examine images of the upper digestive tract displayed on a monitor in the examination room. Small instruments may also be passed through the tube to treat certain disorders or to perform biopsies (remove small samples of tissue).
An EGD is performed to evaluate, and sometimes to treat, such symptoms relating to the upper gastrointestinal tract as:
bleeding from the upper intestinal tract and related anemias
In addition, an EGD may be performed to confirm abnormalities indicated by such other diagnostic procedures as an upper gastrointestinal (upper GI) x-ray series or a CT scan. It may be used to treat certain conditions, such as an area of narrowing (stricture) or bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Upper endoscopy is considered to be more accurate than x-ray studies for detecting inflammation, ulcers, or tumors. It is used to diagnose early-stage cancer and can frequently help determine whether a growth is benign or malignant. The doctor can obtain biopsies of inflamed or suspicious tissue for examination in the laboratory by a pathologist or cytologist. Cell scrapings can also be taken by introducing a small brush through the endoscope; this technique is especially helpful in diagnosing cancer or an infection.
Besides its function as an examining tool, an endoscope has channels that permit the passage of instruments. This feature gives the physician an opportunity to treat on the spot many conditions that may be seen in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum. These treatments may include:
removal of polyps and other noncancerous (benign) tissue growths
stretching narrowed areas (strictures) in the esophagus
stopping bleeding from ulcers or blood vessels
removing foreign objects that have been swallowed, such as coins, pins, buttons, small nails, and similar items
Some of the diseases and conditions that are investigated, identified, or treated using EGD include:
achalasia, a defect in the muscular opening between the esophagus and the stomach
An EGD procedure is usually performed by a gastroenterologist, who is a physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the digestive tract. GI (gastrointestinal) assistants, operating room nurses, or technicians may be involved in the collection of samples and care of the patient. Patients will be asked to either gargle using a local anesthetic or will have an anesthetic sprayed into their mouths onto the back of the throat to numb the gag reflex. Then the endoscopist will guide the endoscope through the mouth into the upper gastrointestinal tract while the patient is lying on his or her left side. The lens or camera at the end of the instrument allows the endoscopist to examine each portion of the upper gastrointestinal tract by observing images on a monitor. Photographs are usually taken for reference. During the procedure, air is pumped in through the instrument to expand the structure that is being studied and allow better viewing. Biopsies and other procedures will be performed as needed. The patient's breathing will not be disturbed and there will be little if any discomfort. Many patients fall asleep during all or part of the procedure.
Some patients should not have an EGD. This examination is contraindicated in patients who have:
esophageal diverticula, which are small pouches in the esophagus that can trap food or pills and become infected
a suspected perforation (puncture or rupture) of the esophagus or stomach
recent surgery of the upper gastrointestinal tract (throat, esophagus, stomach, pyloric valve, duodenum)
An EGD is also contraindicated for those patients who are unable to cooperate fully with the procedure or whose overall condition includes a severe underlying illness that increases the risk of complications.
Maggie Boleyn RN, BSN, L. Lee Culvert, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,