What is gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is an examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum). It involves inserting a thin flexible tube into the mouth to watch the lining of these organs. The instrument is called an endoscope. It features a light and video camera that transmits images to the monitor.
Gastroscopy is typically performed for the study of symptoms associated with the upper digestive tract such as digestive disorders, nausea, or difficulty swallowing. It can also show whether there is inflammation, ulcer, polyps or some other growth. Biopsy samples may be taken for laboratory analysis during the procedure.
Treatments can also be performed through the endoscope. These include stretching narrowed areas, removing polyps and foreign objects, and treating ulcers using injections or heat.
Who has a gastroscopy?
You may need gastroscopy if you have:
- Chronic or recurrent heartburn, nausea or vomiting
- Prolonged nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Black stools or blood in stool
- Loss of weight for no reason
- Peptic ulcer susceptibility
- Suspected oesophagal or stomach cancer
What preparation do I need to do?
Your stomach must be completely empty during the test, so the whole area can be seen clearly. Typically, you’ll be asked not to eat anything for six to eight hours before the procedure, and to stop drinking two to three hours before the procedure.
You’ll be told whether you need to stop taking any of your medications beforehand. Prior to the procedure, you will be given a choice of a local anaesthetic or a sedative (though you may have both). The local anaesthetic is a spray that numbs your throat area and reduces gagging.
The sedative will help you feel drowsy and relaxed during the procedure, but you’ll need to stay in the hospital for a bit longer while you recover, and you’ll need someone to pick you up from the hospital and stay with you for at least 24 hours. You won’t able to work or drive during this period
What can I expect after a gastroscopy?
The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. After the procedure, you’ll be taken to the recovery area. If you didn’t have a sedative, you can usually go home soon after the procedure is finished. If you had a sedative, you’ll need to rest quietly for a few minutes or hours until the sedative has worn off. You’ll also need to arrange for someone to take you home and to stay with you for at least 24 hours.
Before you’re discharged, the nurse or doctor may be able to explain the results of the procedure to you. Sometimes, you may need to have an appointment with the doctor or your GP a few days or weeks later to discuss the results.
You’ll be told if you need to make any changes to your diet during the hours or days after going home.
Are there side effects or complications of gastroscopy?
As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with gastroscopy although they are extremely rare. It’s normal to feel bloated or have a sore throat for a day or two after a gastroscopy. However, you should contact your GP or the endoscopy unit immediately if you develop signs of a more serious problem, such as:
- Severe abdominal pain.
- High temperature (fever).
- Severe breathing problems.
- vomiting blood.