What is gastroscopy? Why is this done and how long does it take? How is gastroscopy performed?

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Gastroscopy is an examination of the upper digestive tract using an endoscope (a long, thin, flexible tube containing a camera and a light) to look at the inner surface of these organs.

What is gastroscopy?

The procedure involves inserting an endoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube with a “video camera” at the end, into the first part of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine through the mouth. This allows the doctor to examine these areas and perform special procedures, such as biopsies. Gastroscopy is performed as a surgical procedure on outpatients in the hospital.

Why is gastroscopy done?

Gastroscopy is usually performed to assess the symptoms of indigestion, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. This is the best test to find the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

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Gastroscopy is more accurate than X-rays to detect inflammation, ulcers, or tumors in the upper GI tract. Biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken to identify sites of infection, to examine the function of the small intestine, and to diagnose abnormal tissue, including conditions such as celiac disease and cancerous lesions.

Gastroscopy is also used to treat conditions of the upper GI tract. Your doctor may pass small instruments through the endoscope so that many abnormalities can be treated directly with little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor may stretch a narrow area, remove polyps (usually benign growths), or treat bleeding.

How to prepare for gastroscopy?

A safe and accurate test requires an empty stomach, so you should not eat or drink anything with water for about six hours before the test. Your doctor will provide more detailed information about this, depending on the timing of your examination. Tell your doctor in advance about the medications you are taking. You may need to adjust your usual dose for testing. This is especially important if you have diabetes.

How is gastroscopy performed?

A mild sedative is usually given before the procedure – you will not get a completely normal anesthetic. You may be a little aware of what’s going on in the room, but you usually don’t remember anything. A local anesthetic can be sprayed on the back of your throat to numb, and a small mouthpiece may be placed between your teeth to protect the endoscope from bites. If you have dentures (dentures), they are removed before the procedure. Doctors and healthcare professionals monitor your vital signs during the procedure and try to make you as comfortable as possible.

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The process takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

After lying in a quiet and comfortable position on your left side, the endoscope passes through the mouth and then through the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The tube is less than a centimeter in diameter and does not fit into your windpipe, so it does not interfere with breathing. At the end of the scope a small camera sends a video image to the monitor, allowing the doctor to carefully examine the lining of your upper GI tract.

What happens after gastroscopy?

You will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the effects of sedation have stopped. Your throat may be a little sore and you may feel bloated as air enters your abdomen during the test. You can eat after you leave, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

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In most cases, your doctor will briefly inform you of your test results on the day of the procedure. A follow-up appointment may be made to discuss the test results further. It will take several days for the results of the biopsy or sample to come.

Due to the painkillers given, you should not drive, travel alone on public transport, drive machinery, sign legal documents or drink alcohol on the same day after the test. It is highly recommended that a friend or relative take you home and stay with you

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