Gastroscopy

What is Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is a procedure done to examine the inside of the stomach. The formal name of the procedure is esophagogastroduodenoscopy. In other words, the procedure involves looking at the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine (duodenum) using a gastroscope, a long, slender tube with a light and a tiny television camera which is passed through the mouth.

What Happens During the Procedure?

An intravenous (IV) will be started in your arm. You will be connected to instruments to continuously monitor your pulse, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and oxygen level. A short acting anesthetic is then given so you will sleep through the procedure. A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) will care for you during the procedure to ensure your safety.
The gastroscope is inserted through the mouth and passed down the throat. A thorough examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum will be performed. If there are areas which are abnormal, biopsies may be taken for microscopic examination by a pathologist. Certain conditions may also be treated through the gastroscope. Small growths may be removed. Small bleeding sites may also be cauterized or injected to stop bleeding. If the esophagus or the outlet of the stomach is narrowed, it can be stretched open with a balloon or a tapered plastic tube.
In general, this examination is very brief and takes perhaps 5 to 10 minutes.

After the Procedure

The anesthetic wears off very quickly. Most patients are awake 5-10 minutes after the procedure is done. You will be observed for about 30 minutes before going home. You will not be allowed to drive for the rest of the day. You may be drowsy for several hours afterward.
Following the gastroscopy, the doctor will talk with you and your family and give them a complete report of the test findings. A follow-up visit may be scheduled, at the discretion of the physician.

Risks

Gastroscopy is a very safe procedure. Complications occur in less than 1% of patients.

  • Reaction to the medications given for sedation are also uncommon, but include allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, or irritation of the vein used to give the medication.
  • Bleeding is a possibility, and can sometimes occur several days after the procedure, especially if a polyp has been removed.
  • Perforation or puncture of the intestinal tract may occur. A perforation is a serious problem and in most cases would require surgery. Fortunately, this is quite rare.
  • If you experience severe pain, bleeding, or any problems after the procedure, please contact our office immediately.

Is There Any Alternative to Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is the best test available to diagnose and even treat many abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. An X-ray test called an upper GI series can also detect some abnormalities of these organs, but generally gastroscopy is better at detecting problems. Only gastroscopy allows taking biopsies to check for infection with Helicobacter or other germs, or to look for abnormal cells or tumors, treatment of bleeding sites, or stretching of narrowed portions of the upper digestive tract.
Video capsule endoscopy is a specialized test for examination of the small intestine. It is not an alternative to gastroscopy.

Preparation

If your procedure is scheduled in the morning, you are not to eat, drink, or chew anything after midnight until your procedure is completed. On the day of your procedure, important medications, such as those for high blood pressure or heart disease, should be taken with a small amount of clear liquid early in the morning, at least 3 hours before the procedure. Other medications can be taken after the procedure.
If your procedure is scheduled after noon, you may have one cup of clear liquids of your choice in the early morning and then nothing to eat, drink or chew until after your procedure is completed. You may take your regular prescription medications in the early morning.
If you are a diabetic or taking Coumadin, you will be given specific instructions regarding these medications. Please let your doctor know if there is any chance you might be pregnant at the time of any procedure.