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Home > Services > Digestive Health > Digestive Procedures > Upper GI Endoscopy

Upper GI Endoscopy

An upper GI endoscopy (EGD) examines the lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum for inflammation, ulcers or growths. With a small camera, called an endoscope, doctors can evaluate you for trouble swallowing, abdominal pain or bleeding. The exam usually lasts 5 to 20 minutes.

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Upper GI Endoscopy

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 Possible complications, while rare, may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Damage to the esophagus, stomach or intestine
  • Infection
  • Reduced breathing 
  • Reaction to sedatives or anesthesia

The Upper GI Procedure

How to Prepare

Review guidelines on how to prepare for an upper GI endoscopy (PDF).

Get the Spanish upper GI endoscopy instructions (PDF).

Pain & Anesthesia

Your doctor may give you liquid or spray medicine to numb your throat, as well as a sedative through an IV with oxygen to help you relax. You may experience some discomfort during and after the test.

The Test Procedure

You will lie on your left side with a mouthpiece in place to keep your mouth open. The doctor will move the endoscope carefully and slowly down your throat, through your esophagus and into your stomach and intestine.

As this happens, your doctor may send air through the scope to enhance the view of your digestive tissue. Tiny tools may take biopsies or do other tests.

After the Test

When you return home after the test, rest and follow your doctor's instructions.

Cause for Concern

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Hard, swollen abdomen
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Any change or increase in your original symptoms
  • Bloody or black tarry colored stools
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Cough, shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Bleeding

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Call 434.243.3090

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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