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Electrogastrogram

By

Sarah Lewis, PharmD

What is an electrogastrogram?

An electrogastrogram (EGG) is a painless test that detects problems with the nerves and muscles of the stomach. An EGG uses electrical signals to measure the activity of muscles and nerves in the stomach. An EGG can help diagnose stomach symptoms, including gas and chronic nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. It can also diagnose gastroparesis, a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. 

Many insurance companies consider an EGG to be experimental technology. Check with your insurance company and your doctor about your coverage. 

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An EGG is only one method to diagnose stomach digestion problems. Discuss all of your testing options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.  

Why is an electrogastrogram performed? 

Your doctor may recommend an electrogastrogram (EGG) to diagnose diseases and conditions of the stomach including:

  • Chronic dyspepsia is long-term, recurrent indigestion. Symptoms include a painful or burning feeling in the upper abdomen. It is usually occurs with nausea, bloating, gas, a feeling of fullness, and, sometimes, vomiting.

  • Chronic nausea and vomiting that is unexplained

  • Flatulence, belching, and gas pain that is unexplained

  • Gastroparesis, a stomach disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. This condition is usually a complication of type 1 diabetes. It can also occur in persons with type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, anorexia, hypothyroidism, and scleroderma.

Ask your doctor about all of your testing options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on an EGG. 

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Who performs an electrogastrogram?

A specially trained nurse or a technician usually performs an electrogastrogram. A gastroenterologist will study the recordings for any irregularities. A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal or digestive tract. 

How is an electrogastrogram performed?

Your electrogastrogram (EGG) will be performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. The procedure is noninvasive and takes about two hours. It generally includes these steps:

  1. You dress in a patient gown.

  2. You lie on your back on a procedure table.

  3. Your nurse or technician tapes electrodes to your abdomen (belly). The electrodes are similar to those used for other tests, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram). The electrodes measure electrical signals coming from your stomach muscles. They send the signals to a computer that records the signals as a graph.

  4. Your nurse or technician records a test while your stomach is empty. An hour later, you have something to eat and drink. Your nurse or technician then records a second test. The test and electrodes are painless.

  5. You may wait a short period of time while your team verifies that the recording is complete.

  6. The electrodes are removed. Patients usually go home right after the test.

Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation is important to you and your care team. An EGG is a painless procedure with no side effects. Tell your care team if you have any discomfort during the test.

What are the risks and potential complications of an electrogastrogram?  

There are no known risks associated with a diagnostic Electrogastrogram (EGG). The electrodes used in an EGG sense electrical signals from the muscles in your stomach. They do not produce electrical signals. This is similar to an EKG (electrocardiogram) that senses electrical signals from your heart. 

How do I prepare for my electrogastrogram?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before an Electrogastrogram (EGG) can improve your comfort and outcome. Follow any instructions from your doctor about not eating or drinking before your EGG. There is generally no other preparation needed for an EGG.

Questions to ask your doctor

Having an Electrogastrogram (EGG) can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before an EGG and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need an EGG? Are there any other options for diagnosing my condition?

  • Is this procedure covered by my insurance? Do I need pre-authorization? If it is not covered, how much does it cost? Is there financial assistance available to cover the cost?

  • How long will the procedure take? 

  • When and how will I receive the results of my test?

  • What other tests or treatments might I need?

  • When should I follow up with you?

  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my electrogastrogram?

Knowing what to expect after an Electrogastrogram (EGG) can help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible.

How will I feel after the electrogastrogram?

A diagnostic EGG is a painless, noninvasive testing procedure. Call your doctor if you have any pain or discomfort after the procedure. You should be able to return to your normal activities right after your EGG.

When can I go home?

Most patients go home right after testing is complete.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after an EGG. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 9, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Cutaneous Electrogastrogram (EGG). Blue Cross of Idaho. https://www.bcidaho.com/providers/medical_policies/med/mp_20134.asp
  2. Electrogastrogram (EGG). California Pacific Medical Center. http://www.cpmc.org/services/gi/egg.html
  3. Electrogastrogram (EGG). Dartmouth-Hitchcock. http://patients.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/gi/electrogastrogram.html
  4. Electrogastrogram (EGG), Transcutaneous. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. http://secure.bcbsm.com/mprApp/MedicalPolicyDocument?fileId=2046981
  5. Gastric Stasis, Diagnosis and Treatment with Electrical System. United Healthcare Oxford. https://www.oxhp.com/secure/policy/gastric_stasis_409.html
  6. Gastrointestinal Function: Selected Tests. Aetna. http://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/300_399/0396.html
  7. Gastroparesis. BetterMedicine. http://www.bettermedicine.com/article/gastroparesis
  8. Indigestion. BetterMedicine. http://www.bettermedicine.com/article/indigestion

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