What is a Gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is a specialized examination that allows your doctor to look inside your upper digestive tract using an endoscope. An endoscope is a long, thin and flexible tube with a video camera attached to one end and controls at the other end.
Why do I need this procedure?
The upper digestive tract can be affected by many disorders, for example, ulcers, gastritis and cancer. This test will help your doctor evaluate symptoms of the upper digestive tract. Treatment may be performed through the endoscope if necessary and where technically possible. For example, heat treatment can be applied to a bleeding ulcer to stop the bleeding (cauterization).
What does it involve?
This procedure is usually an outpatient procedure. It is performed on an empty stomach, after at least six hours without food or drink. During the procedure, everything will be done to make you as comfortable as possible. Gastroscopy is done with you lying on your left side. An anaesthetic spray will be applied to the back of your throat to numb the area so that you are less likely to gag when the endoscope is introduced. In addition, an injection of a mild sedative can be given. This will put you into a light sleep during the procedure. When sedation is used, your pulse and oxygen level will be monitored with a finger-probe throughout the procedure. The endoscope is then gently introduced. You will be able to breathe easily throughout. The entire procedure takes about 10-15 minutes excluding preparation time. In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample of tissue (biopsy) for examination.
What are the possible complications from gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is a very safe procedure. You may experience some temporary throat discomfort after the procedure. Complications rarely occur (in less than 1 in 10 000 cases and include heart attack, bleeding and perforation / a puncture of the lining of the digestive tract). Surgical repair may be required to deal with bleeding or perforation. The risks of sedation include lowering of blood pressure, lowering of oxygen level and slowing down of breathing rate. This is minimized by using the appropriate dose of sedative. There will be close monitoring of pulse and oxygen levels. Rarely, these complications can be fatal.
What can I expect after gastroscopy?
When gastroscopy is completed, you will be brought to the recovery area for monitoring and observation. If you have received sedation, you should not drive or operate machinery on the same day. For this reason, someone else must be available to accompany you home.
Is there an alternative test?
The alternative test is barium meal. This is an x-ray investigation involving drinking a white liquid (barium). X-ray pictures are then obtained. It is not as accurate as OGD in assessing inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It will not be possible to obtain a biopsy or apply direct treatment to the lining, if required.
What should I do with my current medication before the procedure?
You need to inform your list of medication (including traditional medicine) to your doctor. In general, you need to stop blood thinning medicines (such as clopidrogel, warfarin, Xarelto, Pradaxa) before the procedure. Your doctor will advise you the number of days you need to stop the medication. You also need to inform your prescriber whether it is safe to stop this medication temporarily. Another group of medications which you need to stop before the procedure are diabetic medicines.