Gastroscopy is a diagnostic technique used to diagnose a range of conditions affecting the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, that is the oesophagus (the 'gullet' connecting the throat to the stomach), the stomach itself and the section of the intestine connected to the stomach – the duodenum. Symptoms which gastroscopy can help diagnose include stomach pain, otherwise unexplained vomiting and bleeding.
A gastroscope (similar in functionality to a colonoscope, which is used for diagnosis of conditions affecting the bowel) is a long thin tube with a miniature video camera and light attached inserted via the mouth. As well as allowing the operator to view the inside of the GI tract, some surgical and other procedures can be carried out if necessary during the gastroscopy, for example taking tissue biopsies and treating bleeding ulcers.
Endoscopy (gastroscopy is an endoscopic procedure) has been in use since the 1950s and allows much faster and less invasive diagnosis and treatment of conditions which previously required open surgery to diagnose and treat. It is also a more accurate diagnostic tool for gastric conditions than other diagnostic tools, for example x-rays.
How should I prepare for a gastroscopy?
The only preparation required for a gastroscopy is to observe 'nil-by-mouth' (i.e. nothing to be eaten or drunk) for the six hours prior.
What is involved in the procedure?
As a non-invasive procedure, only a mild sedative is required and, in some cases a local anaesthetic is given to the back of the throat to stop any gag reflex when the gastroscope is inserted.
The gastroscopy itself generally takes no longer than half an hour. Patients are kept under observation for a short period (generally no more than two hours) and then are free to return home. As sedation is used, patients should not drive themselves home and should not return to work until the following day.
Risks relating to gastroscopy are very small – <0.001% complication rate (less than 1 in 1,000) when used as a diagnostic tool, a 0.01% complication rate (1 in 100) where a condition is treated during the gastroscopy. These complications may include:
- Adverse reaction to anaesthetic (e.g. feeling ill, breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeat, or – very rarely – stroke or heart attack).
- Perforation of internal tissue (a tear in the lining of the oesophagus, the stomach or the duodenum).
- Bleeding (from accidental damage to blood vessels; this can generally be repaired during a subsequent gastroscopy).
When you should get in contact with Dr White
Most surgical procedures are uneventful, with minimal complications. However, you need to be aware of the following symptoms as they may indicate a developing serious complication...
- Excess bleeding.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Severe or increasing pain.
- If you experience any of these symptoms or have any concerns after your surgery, please contact the rooms on 07 5598 0955 for advice.
- A post operative appointment will be made for you before you are discharged from hospital. If you are discharged on a weekend, after normal surgery hours or it is not clear what follow up appointments are required, then contact the rooms the next working day to make an appointment.