What is an EGD?

An esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the inside of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, using a thin, flexible instrument called an endoscope. The endoscope contains a light and camera that transmits pictures of the inside of your esophagus, stomach and upper intestine (duodenum) to a video screen.

The esophagus is a muscular tube located in the upper GI tract. It connects your mouth to your stomach. The duodenum follows the stomach and is the first section of your small intestine.

EGD can help your doctor find the reason for unexplained symptoms you may be having, such as difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain, vomiting blood, or heartburn. EGD helps diagnose diseases and disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as peptic ulcers. Doctors also use EGD to treat certain conditions, such as upper GI bleeding and removal of swallowed objects. EGD is also known as an upper GI endoscopy, gastroscopy, or upper endoscopy.

EGD is a minimally invasive procedure that is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure does not require an incision, and generally has a quick recovery and a very low risk of complications. EGD is only one method used to treat and diagnose conditions of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about all of your options to understand which option is best for you.

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may recommend one or more additional procedures during your EGD to diagnose or treat certain conditions. The following procedures may be performed during the EGD procedure:

  • Botulinum toxin injection into the lower esophageal sphincter to relieve difficulty swallowing due to hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter
  • Chromoendoscopy, which involves spraying dye into the esophagus to highlight abnormal tissue
  • Control of bleeding using electrocautery, injection or clips
  • Dilation of the esophagus or duodenum that is too narrow, often due to scar tissue
  • Endoscopic injection therapy, which is the application of medication that shrinks esophageal varices (enlarged veins in the esophagus that can bleed)
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy to identify abnormal tissue that may be cancerous
  • Foreign body removal, or removal of food or other object that is stuck in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Removal of polyps, which are abnormal growths that can become cancerous
  • Tissue biopsy, which involves removing samples of abnormal-looking intestinal tissues to be examined for disease or cancer
  • Variceal ligation for treatment of esophageal varices by tying them off with elastic bands

Why is an EGD performed?

Your doctor may recommend an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to diagnose and possibly treat a variety of diseases and conditions of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, which is the first section of the small intestine. These include:

  • Cancer, tumor or mass of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum
  • Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Early fullness after eating small meals. Also called early satiety, feeling full fast after eating a small amount of food can be due to problems in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Esophageal varices, which are swollen veins in the esophagus that can bleed
  • Foreign body evaluation and removal
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, chronic vomiting, heartburn, regurgitation, and dysphagia (the sensation of food being stuck), or odynophagia (painful swallowing) if the underlying cause has not been found through other, less invasive tests
  • Unexplained weight loss if the underlying cause has not been found through less invasive tests
  • Upper gastrointestinal bleeding, which can show up as unexplained anemia, vomiting blood, or black or tarry stools
  • Upper gastrointestinal diseases, such as peptic ulcer, Barrett’s esophagus, strictures, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux, hiatal hernia, or heartburn

Who performs an EGD?

The following specialists commonly perform esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD):