The procedure done to examine the upper portion of the digestive system is called gastroscopy. A thin, long, and flexible tube called an endoscope is used for the procedure. The endoscope is passed through the patient’s mouth into the throat (esophagus), stomach, and the first part of the duodenum.
The endoscope also comes with a video camera at the tip and images from the camera can be seen by the endoscopist via a television screen. Surprisingly, gastroscopy is a very short procedure and will take only around 15 minutes.
Gastroscopy is done to evaluate some symptoms including vomiting, nausea, difficulty swallowing, upper abdominal pain, and indigestion. Gastroscopy is also considered the ideal procedure to find the possible cause of bleeding that originates from the gastrointestinal tract or GI.
The procedure can also provide important and detailed information of the digestive system’s lining. The information generated from gastroscopy can also reveal the possible causes of the symptoms and can assist doctors in determining the proper treatment to be administered.
Amazingly, gastroscopy can also be used to treat certain conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Small instruments can be passed through the endoscope to treat abnormalities directly. Patients would only feel very little to no discomfort at all. For instance, bleeding might be treated or tissue samples might be taken (biopsies).
How to Prepare for Gastroscopy
To ensure an accurate and safe examination, it is important that the patient has an empty stomach. That said, patients won’t be allowed to drink or eat anything at least six hours before the procedure. It is important to inform your healthcare provider if you are diabetic or taking blood thinners.
What To Expect After the Procedure
Patients will be monitored in the recovery area until the sedation effects have worn off completely. Some report experiencing some soreness in their throat. Others might also feel bloated. Once the effects of the sedation have worn off, patients can leave unless instructed by their doctors otherwise.
Typically, you can expect to be in the hospital for three to four hours. However, if no sedation is used, you can go home right away after the procedure. In most cases, patients will be briefly informed of the results of the test the same day of the procedure. Results of biopsies, however, will take several days and will be discussed by your GP.
Patients are expected to fully recover from the procedure within a day. However, to ensure safety and minimal discomfort, patients are advised to carefully read and strictly follow any discharge instructions provided.
Possible Side Effects or Risks of the Procedure
While complications can occur, they are often rare. Typically, any risks or possible side effects will be discussed with you before gastroscopy is done. Some of the possible risks and side effects include:
- Irregular breathing due to the sedation. To ensure safety, the patient’s pulse, breathing, and oxygen level are closely monitored throughout the procedure. Endoscopists would not recommend sedation if you have a high risk of experiencing breathing difficulties during gastroscopy.
- Small risk of perforation. The procedure carries a very minimal risk of creating a hole in your digestive system. However, the probability of this happening is no more than once every 1000 procedures. An operation will be carried out to fix any perforations.