Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Digestive cancers: Esophageal gastroduodenoscopy

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Dr. Leon Yoder: An EGD, also called esophageal gastroduodenoscopy, is a scope that we use to look into the esophagus, into the stomach, into part of the small intestine. That really helps us to diagnose cancer, especially involving the esophagus, cancer involving the stomach or even into the small intestine. It also allows us to look into the esophagus if anyone has difficulty swallowing. It's one of the very first things that you might want to do is consider an EGD is to look into the esophagus to see what's causing that difficulty swallowing. Is it a stricture? Is it a tumor? Is it inflammation? Or is it an infection? It's also the first thing that you would consider if someone is passing blood, like from an ulcer. So if you have an ulcer, oftentimes, an ulcer originates in the stomach or the small intestine. You can see that very clearly with an EGD.

Does it help to look only? It does help to look only, but you can do something about it. We have the means now if it's an ulcer that is bleeding, is to stop the bleeding. We can use injection of medication into the ulcer that will control the bleeding and oftentimes, we use cautery. Cautery means it's a technique where we apply heat over that bleeding area and that just dries the tissue up and stops the bleeding. So it's very helpful then to look for bleeding sites from an upper gastrointestinal source.

We also use the EGD to help us place stents. Oftentimes, when people are unable to swallow because of an obstructed mass in the esophagus, we can put a stent in. It keeps it open where you can swallow. You're able to swallow liquids. You can swallow solids. And during your treatment then, that stent will stay in. And then when the treatment is completed, the stent will come out, and then you'll be able to swallow. We also use the EGD to put stents in the small intestine. For instance, if there's an obstruction there beyond the stomach, where food goes into your stomach but it can't pass out, oftentimes, a stent can be placed in that area where the obstruction is to where you're able to swallow now.

We also use an EGD for different types of treatments. For instance, if we want to shrink down a tumor, we can shrink down a tumor by using an EGD and using different instruments.

Learn how an EGD, or esophageal gastroduodenoscopy, is used to help diagnose some digestive cancers and treat complications such as bleeding ulcers. Dr. Leon Yoder explains why this endoscopic tool is so important and how it helps doctors care for patients who have digestive cancers and disorders.

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