About Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy
The upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the site of many disorders, usually related to diet, environment and heredity. These disorders can develop into a variety of diseases or symptoms, which can be diagnosed with a procedure called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy). By visually examining the upper intestinal tract using a flexible endoscope, gastroenterologists can diagnose a variety of diseases. During an EGD, instruments can be passed through the endoscope to perform diagnostic or therapeutic treatments if needed. These procedures could include a biopsy, in which a small tissue specimen is obtained for microscopic analysis, or removal of a polyp or tumor using a thin wire snare and electrocautery (electrical heat).
Frequently Asked Questions about Upper GI Endoscopy
Q. Where is the upper gastrointestinal tract and why is it important?
A. The upper gastrointestinal tract begins with the mouth and continues with the esophagus (food tube) which carries food to the stomach. The acid in the stomach churns food into small particles. The food particles then enter the duodenum, or small bowel, where bile from the liver and digestive juices from the pancreas mix with it to help the digestive process. Both bile and enzymes are needed to digest food, so it is important to diagnose any problems as quickly as possible.
Q. What exactly is an endoscope?
A. An endoscope is a very narrow lighted, flexible fiber optic tube. At the end of the tube is a miniature camera with a wide-angle lens that helps your doctor examine the lining of your digestive tract on a video monitor. As the physician moves the endoscope through the upper gastrointestinal tract, electronic signals are transmitted from the scope to a computer that displays the image on a video screen. An open channel in the scope allows various instruments to be passed through it to take tissue samples and perform other treatments.
Q. What happens during the EGD procedure?
A. Prior to the procedure, you will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. The endoscope is then gently inserted into the upper esophagus and the physician will proceed to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (initial portion of the small intestine). Once completed, you are taken to the recovery area. There is very little, if any, pain associated with the procedure and patients seldom remember much about it.
Q. Is any preparation necessary before the procedure?
A. It is important not to eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before the exam. Your physician will give you instructions about the use of regular medications, including blood thinners, before the exam. Because of the mild sedation, you are not allowed to drive, operate heavy machinery or make any important decisions for up to six hours following the exam. It’s important to have someone with you to drive you home.
Q. What happens after the procedure?
A. After the exam, the physician will explain the results to you. If the effects of the sedatives are prolonged, the physician may suggest a follow-up appointment to review your results. If a biopsy has been performed or an abnormality identified, it usually takes several days to get the results.
Q. Should I expect complications or side effects?
A. A temporary, mild sore throat sometimes occurs after the exam. Serious risks with upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, however, are very uncommon. One such risk is excessive bleeding, especially if a large polyp is removed. In extremely rare instances, a perforation, or tear, in the esophagus or stomach wall can occur. These complications may require hospitalization and, rarely, surgery.
Q. What is Fuse®?
A. Fuse®, or Full Spectrum Endoscopy™, is the latest advancement in upper GI endoscopy. It provides your physician with a 245-degree field of view (as compared to the 150-degree view of standard, forward-viewing endoscopes). This increased field of view provides your physician with the ability to see and detect more abnormalities.
Q. Will the procedure be any different if my physician uses Fuse® technology?
A. No. Your experience is exactly the same. The difference with Fuse® is the enhanced field of view experienced by your physician.
Q. Does Fuse® endoscopy cost more than standard endoscopy?
A. No. Fuse® endoscopy is covered by your insurance in the same way as standard endoscopy.
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