How an Upper Endoscopy Detects Digestive Diseases

An upper endoscopy, or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), is a medical procedure that examines the internal anatomy of a patient’s upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum (the upper 10-15 inches of the small intestine).

Upper Endoscopy can help identify the cause of:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Bleeding or anemia
  • Heartburn (esophageal reflux)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Weight loss

The primary tool used during an EGD is an endoscope (often simply called a “scope”). The endoscope functions as a long, thin camera passed through the mouth into the upper intestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, duodenum), while under sedation. It has many parts that help evaluate and treat digestive disorders, including:

  • Fiberoptics to illuminate the intestinal tract with white light and more narrow wavelengths
  • A camera that provides real-time video imaging during the examination
  • A suction device to remove fluid and to collect specimens
  • The ability to use biopsy forceps to collect tissue samples and to use snares to remove growths and polyps
  • The ability to use a needle to inject medication
  • The ability to stop bleeding using various devices that generate heat or place clips on bleeding lesions
  • A channel to allow rinsing and installation of substances to facilitate the examination (such as a dye to help visualize abnormalities)
  • A channel to allow passage of a dilating balloon to open narrow strictures

Why is an upper endoscopy performed?

It is the most accurate technique to identify most upper digestive diseases, providing more information than x-ray studies in most conditions such as reflux esophagitis, ulcer disease, celiac disease, obstruction and malignancy

It can be used to remove foreign objects in the intestinal tract or remove food lodged in the esophagus

It alone provides the ability to collect tissue for analysis, without the need of surgery

It has become the first-line treatment for bleeding conditions of the upper intestinal tract, avoiding the need for surgery in the vast majority of bleeding patients

This procedure typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform and is considered minimally invasive. For more information on the procedure, contact a gastroenterologist at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants today or visit our website at .

Edited by: Michael Nunez, M.D.