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What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is an investigative procedure for examining and assessing conditions affecting the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the throat to the oesophagus (the 'gullet' or 'food pipe') down into the stomach and into the upper section of the small intestine (the duodenum).

How should I prepare for a gastroscopy?

  • No solid food after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • take any medication (with a sip of water) until 4 hours before the procedure.

Let Dr Silverman's team know what medications you are taking and they will be able to advise you what to do ahead of the procedure. For example, if you are taking any medication for indigestion, you may need to stop taking these 14 days before the procedure.

What is involved in the procedure?

It involves inserting a long, flexible tube equipped with a small light and videocamera (as well as some surgical instruments) via the mouth into the GI tract. The medical specialist is then able to view the internal tissues and, in some cases, perform minor surgical procedures if necessary.

You may require a local anaesthetic spray to number your throat before insertion of the gastroscope. Otherwise you stay awake during the procedure.

A gastroscopy is a type of 'endoscopic' procedure, that is a procedure that does not involve conventional surgery where incisions need to be made to allow access to internal tissue.

What are the advantages of endoscopic procedures like gastroscopy?

Endoscopic procedures are much less stressful for the body, with no incisions or resultant scarring of the skin. As there is no recovery period required as such, most patients are able to undergo the procedure in a few hours and return home the same day.

Which conditions can be diagnosed and / or treated by gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is commonly used to diagnose the causes of:

  • Anaemia.
  • Bleeding.
  • Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the abdominal area.
  • Vomiting (where otherwise uexplained).
  • Weight loss (where otherwise unexplained).

The following minor surgical procedures may also be carried out during a gastroscopy:

  • Taking of biopsies (tissue samples).
  • Dilation of any narrowing to parts of the GI tract.
  • Stent placement (to keep a section of the GI tract open).
  • Treatment of bleeding.

After a gastroscopy

After the procedure you will still be affected by the anaesthetic. This may temporarily cause the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Short term memory loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sore throat.
  • Pain.

This is why it is very important that you do not, during the 24-hour period after the procedure...

  • Drive (you must have someone available to drive you home after the procedure).
  • Operate dangerous machinery.
  • Drink any alcohol.
  • Sign any legal documents.
  • Make any important decisions.

Risks / complications

As with all medical procedures there are risks associated with anaesthesia, internal bleeding and perforation of organs (in the case of gastroscopy this would include the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum). As a general guide, complications occur in less than one in a thousand gastroscopies.

Dr Silverman will be able to discuss any possible risks or complications with you well ahead of the procedure.