Direct visualization of the digestive tract and abdominal cavity with lighted instruments is referred to as Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Your physician has advised you of your need to have this type of examination. The following information is presented to help you understand the reason for, and possible risks of these procedures.

At the time of your examination, the inside lining of the digestive tract will be inspected thoroughly. If an abnormality is seen or suspected, a small portion of tissue (biopsy) may be removed for microscopic study, or the lining may be washed with a solution that can be sent for analysis of abnormal cells (cytology). Small growths can frequently be completely removed (polypectomy). Occasionally during the examination a narrowed portion (stricture) will be stretched to a more normal size (dilation).


  1. Esophagoscopy, Gastroscopy and Duodenoscopy (EGD): The examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum to look for ulcers, tumors, inflammation, and/or areas of bleeding. Biopsy, cytology, specimen collection, and dilation of strictures may be necessary.
  2. Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, with possibly Polypectomy: Examination of all or a portion of the colon requiring careful preparation with diet and medication. Polypectomies are done using a wire loop electric current to remove small growths that protrude into the colon.

Principal Risks

  1. Injury to the lining of the digestive tract by the instrument, which may result in perforation of the wall and leakage into body cavities. If this occurs, hospitalization or possible surgery may be required to repair the perforation.
  2. Bleeding, if it occurs, usually is a complication of biopsy, polypectomy, or dilation; management of this complication usually consists only of careful observation or possibly a surgical procedure.
  3. Medication given in the vein to help you relax during the procedure may cause vein irritation (phlebitis) or pain, allergic reaction, cardio respiratory depression or possible arrest.