Upper endoscopy enables the physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The procedure might be used to discover the reason for swallowing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, reflux, bleeding, indigestion, abdominal pain, or chest pain. Upper endoscopy is also called EGD, which stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy (eh-SAH-fuh-goh-GAS-troh-doo-AH-duh-NAH-skuh-pee).
For the procedure, you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope (EN-doh-skope). Right before the procedure, the physician will spray your throat with a numbing agent that may help prevent gagging. You may also receive pain medicine and a sedative to help you relax during the exam. The endoscope transmits an image of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into the stomach; this expands the folds of tissue and makes it easier for the physician to examine the stomach.
The physician can see abnormalities, like inflammation or bleeding, through the endoscope that don’t show up well on X-rays. The physician can also insert instruments into the scope to treat bleeding abnormalities or remove samples of tissue (biopsy) for further tests.
Possible complications of upper endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining. However, such complications are rare. Most people will probably have nothing more than a mild sore throat after the procedure.
The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for one to two hours until the medication wears off.
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 six 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.
Colonoscopy allows the physician to look inside your entire large intestine, from the lowest part—the rectum—all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine. The procedure is used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits. Colonoscopy enables the physician to see inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, ulcers, and bleeding.
For the procedure, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will probably be given pain medication and a mild sedative to keep you comfortable and to help you relax during the exam. The physician will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope. The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon so the physician can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends so the physician can move it around the curves of your colon. You may be asked to change position occasionally to help the physician move the scope. The scope also blows air into your colon, which inflates the colon and helps the physician to see well.
If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove all or part of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. That tissue (biopsy) is then sent to a lab for testing. If there is bleeding in the colon, the physician can pass a laser, heater probe, or electrical probe, or can inject special medicines through the scope and use it to stop the bleeding.
Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible complications of colonoscopy; however, such complications are uncommon.
Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. To prepare for the procedure your physician will give you specific instructions. Inform your physician of any medical conditions or medications that you take before the colonoscopy.