Gastroscopy or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is a procedure that enables your doctor to examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, i.e. the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine) using a thin flexible tube with its own lens and light source.
Gastroscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of indigestion, 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 more accurate than X-rays for detecting inflammation, ulcers, or tumours of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Gastroscopy can detect early cancer and can distinguish between benign and malignant (cancer) conditions by taking biopsies (small tissue samples) of suspicious areas. Biopsies are then sent to pathology for expert analysis. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected. Gastroscopy may also be used to treat conditions present in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
During the procedure, specialised instruments can be passed into the stomach that allow many abnormalities to be treated directly with little or no discomfort. For example, narrow areas can be stretched, polyps (usually benign growths) or swallowed objects can be removed and upper gastrointestinal bleeding can be treated. Safe and effective endoscopic control of bleeding has reduced the need for transfusions and surgery in many patients.
For the best and safest examination, the stomach must be completely empty. You should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for approximately 6 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 procedure, be sure to discuss with your doctor whether you should adjust any of your usual medications, such as warfarin, blood thinning medication, diabetes treatment, or blood pressure tablets, any drug allergies you may have, and whether you have any other major diseases such as a heart or lung condition that might require special attention during the procedure.
Arrangements to get home after the test.
You will be sedated for the procedure and therefore you will need to arrange to have someone accompany you home from the examination, because sedatives may affect your judgement and reflexes for the rest of the day. If you received sedation, you will not be allowed to drive after the procedure even though you may not feel tired.
Your doctor will review with you why a gastroscopy is being performed and any possible complications from the procedure. You 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 the 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 and most patients fall asleep during the procedure.
After the test you will be monitored in the 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 test. You will be able to resume your diet after the procedure. In most circumstances your doctor can inform you of your test results on the day of the procedure; however, the results of any biopsies or cytology samples taken will take several days.
Although endoscopy is safe, complications can occur. Complications are rare when the test is performed by doctors with specialised training and experience in this procedure. Bleeding may occur from a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed. It 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 used and complications from heart or lung diseases. Major complications. e.g. perforation (a tear that might require surgery for repair) are very uncommon, occurring less than one 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 or Glen Iris Private know about it promptly.
During the gastroscopy you will be asked to hold a mouth guard gently between your teeth. This is designed to protect your teeth and to deliver oxygen. While all care is taken GLEN IRIS PRIVATE will not be responsible for any damage to your teeth. The examination is carried out only on this basis.
Do not bring valuables with you as the centre has no facility to store them and will not be held responsible for their loss.
If you have any questions about your need for gastroscopy, alternative tests, the cost of the procedure, methods of billing, insurance coverage, or any other matters, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor.
Endoscopists in this Centre have undergone accredited training and are highly skilled specialists who welcome your questions regarding their credentials and training. If you have questions that have not been answered please discuss them with the endoscopy nurse or your doctor before the examination begins.