Gastroscopy involves passage of a long flexible tube with an attached video camera through the patient’s mouth, throat, oesophagus (“gullet”) into the stomach and duodenum. It is performed with sedation or general anaesthesia and takes 5-15 minutes.
The operator is looking for abnormalities in the oesophagus, stomach or the duodenum (the upper part of the small bowel). Usually the procedure is for visual inspection and often a biopsy. Other procedures are possible via the gastroscope, including treating bleeding points, removal of polyp, dilating narrowed areas and inserting stents.
The procedure will be done in a hospital or a day procedure centre, usually on a day case basis. There are few after-effects.
Gastroscopy is used usually to
· investigate problems such as difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or persistent abdominal(tummy) pain or heartburn.
· diagnose conditions such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and cancer in these areas. Biopsies from the duodenum can be obtained if coeliac disease is suspected.
· treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers, a blockage in the oesophagus, non-cancerous growths (polyps) or small cancerous tumours
A gastroscopy used to check symptoms or confirm a diagnosis is known as a diagnostic gastroscopy. A gastroscopy used to treat a condition is known as a therapeutic gastroscopy.
Read more about why a gastroscopy may be used.
Ask your doctor to explain why he/she is recommending a gastroscopy.
Repeating gastrocopies should not normally be necessary unless there is an ongoing need to treat or monitor a chronic condition in the oesophagus or stomach.
Are there any risks or side-effects?
Although complications can occur, they are rare when the procedure is performed by doctors who are specially trained in gastroscopy. In Australia, very few people experience serious side-effects from gastroscopy.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of procedure that is being performed and other factors including your general health.
You may have a slightly sore throat after the procedure and there is a slightly increased risk of chest infection. Air may also be trapped in your stomach causing you to feel bloated.If a biopsy has been taken or treatment performed, there may be minor bleeding.Very rarely, the wall of the stomach/oesophagus/duodenum wall may be torn,. If this occurs you will be admitted to hospital for operative repair..
Reactions to the sedative are also possible, but again are rare.
In a few cases, if the gastroscopy is not successfully completed it may need to be repeated.
If you have any of the following symptoms in the hours or days after the gastroscopy you should contact the hospital or your doctor’s rooms immediately:
• Trouble swallowing
• Increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain
Other symptoms that cause you concern eg bleeding