Upper GI Endoscopy / OGD

Endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract allows direct visualisation of the inside of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum using lighted viewing instrument (endoscope). This aids or confirms diagnosis in many cases where abnormalities fail to show up on x-ray.

Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours beforehand. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home—you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions.

The procedure is short, taking between 20 and 40 minutes. Though you are conscious during the procedure, a sedative is given to help you to relax, as well analgesics (painkillers) and a local anaesthetic spray to avoid discomfort.
During the procedure, you are asked to swallow the endoscope which is then advanced down the gastrointestinal tract through the oesophagus, stomach and into the duodenum. The endoscope tranforms the images onto a screen, where the physician can easily see abnormalities.
Biopsies (tissue samples) may also be taken during the procedure. These are sent to a laboratory for analysis which determines whether they are benign or malignant. Any sources of bleeding may be cauterised (burning of the affected vessel to stop bleeding).
After a recovery time of 1 to 2 hours, during which the sedative wears off, you will receive instructions from your physcian regarding some symptoms to look out for.

The most common complication of upper endoscopy is a mild sore throat. Other complications are rare, and include bleeding and perforation (puncture) of the stomach lining.