Treatment & Procedures
Click here to find out all about
Upper GI Endoscopy or Gastroscopy in an interactive presentation.
WHAT IS A GASTROSCOPY?
Gastroscopy (also known as an upper GI endoscopy) is a procedure that enables
the examination of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, ie. The
oesophagus, stomach and duodenum, using a thin flexible tube with its own
inbuilt video camera, lens and light source (gastroscope).
WHY IS A GASTROSCOPY DONE?
Gastroscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper
abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It is also the best
test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Gastroscopy is the most accurate means of detecting inflammation and ulcers of
the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Gastroscopy can detect early cancer by
performing biopsies (taking small tissue samples) and can distinguish between
benign and malignant (cancer) conditions. Biopsies are taken for many reasons,
and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected. Gastroscopy may be used to
treat conditions present in the upper gastrointestinal tract. A variety of
instruments can be passed through the endoscope, which allow many abnormalities
to be treated directly, with little or no discomfort, for example, stretching
narrowed areas, removing polyps or treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
WHAT PREPARATION IS REQUIRED?
For the best (and safest) examination, the stomach must be completely empty.
You should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for five (5) hours
before the examination. Your doctor will be more specific about the time to
begin fasting, depending on the time of day that your test is scheduled.
Possible medication adjustments: Before the test, be sure to discuss with the
doctor whether you should adjust any of your usual medications before the
procedure, any drug allergies you may have, and whether you have any major
conditions such as a heart or lung condition, that might require special
attention during the procedure.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED DURING THE GASTROSCOPY?
Your doctor will review with you why a gastroscopy is being performed,
whether any alternative tests are available, and possible complications from the
procedure. Practices may vary among doctors but you will have your throat
sprayed with a local anaesthetic before the test begins and will be given
medication through a vein to help you relax during the test. While you are in a
comfortable position on your left side, the endoscope is passed through your
mouth and then in turn through the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. The
endoscope does not interfere with your breathing during the test. Most patients
consider the test to be only slightly uncomfortable. Many patients fall asleep
during the procedure.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE GASTROSCOPY?
After the test, you will be monitored in a recovery area until most of the
effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat may be a little sore for a
while, and you may feel bloated right after the procedure because of the air
introduced into your stomach during the procedure. You will be able to resume
your diet two (2) hours after the procedure. Start with a cool drink. In most
circumstances, your doctor can inform you of your test results on the day of the
procedure, however the results of any biopsies taken will take several days.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF GASTROSCOPY?
Endoscopy is safe. Complications can occur but they are rare when the test is
performed by doctors with specialised training and experience in the procedure.
Bleeding may occur from a biopsy site, or where a polyp has been removed. This
is usually minimal and rarely requires blood transfusions or surgery. Localised
irritation of the vein where the medication was injected may cause a tender lump
lasting for several weeks but this will go away eventually. Applying heat packs
or hot, moist towels may help relieve discomfort. Other potential risks include
a reaction to the sedatives/anaesthetic used and complications from heart or
lung disease. Major complications, eg. perforation (a tear that may require
surgery for repair) are very uncommon and occur less often than once in 10,000
tests. It is important for you to recognise early signs of any possible
complications. If you begin to run a fever after the test, begin to have trouble
swallowing, or have increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, let your doctor
know about it promptly or contact your local Emergency Department.
You will need to arrange to have someone accompany you home from the
. Drive a car
. Work machinery
. Consume alcohol
. Sign legal documents
. Make important decisions
Until the following day.
If any of your questions have not been answered here, please feel free to
discuss them with the endoscopy nurse or your doctor before the procedure