Health Tests

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Harvard Medical School


Upper Endoscopy (esophagogastroduodenoscopy)

What Happens During the Test?

The nurse will place an intravenous catheter into your arm. During the procedure, the nurse will be monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen content of your blood. You'll probably be given a sedative through an IV. This medicine may prevent you from remembering the test; it might even make you sleep through it.

The doctor will spray a local anesthetic into your throat to prevent you from gagging when the endoscope is inserted. The endoscope used in this test is about half an inch in diameter and long enough to reach from your mouth through your stomach and into the first part of your small intestine. When the doctor places the endoscope in your throat, he or she asks you to swallow. This helps guide the endoscope into your esophagus. You are likely to feel pressure against your throat while the tube is in place and you might experience a "full" feeling in your stomach.

The doctor gently advances the tube through your esophagus into your stomach. As the camera at the end of the scope takes pictures that appear on a video screen, your doctor will watch for any suspicious spots on the lining of your stomach or esophagus. If any appear, your doctor might use some small clippers on the end of the scope to remove a tiny piece of tissue for a biopsy.

Though the exam itself takes only 10-15 minutes, you will probably be in the exam room for 40 minutes or more because of the time it takes to set up. Your throat will feel numb, but this will wear off about 30 minutes later. The sedative will make you sleepy for an hour or more.

From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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