What is gastroscopy?
This is a medical procedure (also sometimes referred to as an upper endoscopy) where a thin flexible instrument with a camera is passed via the mouth into the oesophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. The procedure allows for clear detailed views of these organs as well as enabling tissue sampling and some interventions such as removal of polyps, treatments to stop bleeding etc.
Why is gastroscopy performed?
The procedure may be performed to investigate a number of symptoms such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, bleeding, anaemia etc. or to allow treatment for some pathology. Gastroscopy is much more accurate than scans of the upper gastrointestinal tract for the detection of inflammation, infection, ulcers or tumours. Tissue samples can establish a diagnosis of infection, coeliac disease, cancer or other pathology.
How do I prepare for gastroscopy?
An empty stomach is essential for a safe and accurate examination. You must avoid all oral intake including food and fluids for 6 hours prior to the scheduled procedure.
You should advise us of any medications that you take. These may need to be adjusted for the examination, especially if you have diabetes. Discuss any allergies to medications and medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.
How is gastroscopy performed?
Before the procedure, you will be asked to lie down on your left side. You will be given oxygen to breathe and a mouthguard to protect your teeth. An anaesthetist will give you a light anaesthetic which is extremely safe and short-acting. Most patients will be completely asleep and unaware of the procedure which usually takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. You will be carefully monitored throughout the procedure.
After the gastroscopy
You will be monitored in the recovery area until the effects of the sedation have worn off. It is very unlikely that you will experience any pain following the procedure. Mild sore throat or abdominal bloating may occur on occasion. Most patients will be allowed to eat and drink immediately after the procedure and food and beverages are provided.
The doctor performing the gastroscopy will discuss the results with you and you will receive a copy of the report to take back to your doctor. Any biopsies will be forwarded to Melbourne Pathology and results will be available to your referring doctor after several days. An appointment with your family doctor or specialist should be made to discuss the results and allow further treatment.
Because of the sedation given it is very important that you do not drive a car, travel on public transport alone, operate machinery or sign legal documents on the day of the test. It is strongly advised that a friend or relative take you home and stay with you. Most patients are able to resume normal duties the next day.
Risks or Side Effects
Complications are rare. The risk depends on the exact procedure performed and your general health. It is very unlikely that you will experience any pain following the procedure. Mild sore throat or abdominal bloating may occur on occasion. There is a slightly increased risk for chest infection. If biopsies are obtained or lesions removed at the procedure, there is a small risk for minor bleeding. Serious injury to the gastrointestinal tract is very rare. Anaesthetic complications of any kind are also rare.
In the days following your procedure, if you experience any of the symptoms below, contact your specialist on pager 9387 1000 or Keilor Private on 8340 6400 immediately:
- Trouble swallowing
- Increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain
- Other symptoms that cause you concern
What to bring
- Hospital Registration forms with details completed
- Referral letter
- List of current medications
- Medicare card
- Pension or Health Care Card
- Veterans Affairs Card
- Private Health Fund details (if applicable)