Gastroscopy is a procedure that is performed in order to look inside the upper part of the digestive system, more precisely the esophagus, the stomach and the first part of the small intestine/ duodenum.
The endoscope, which is a flexible telescope with a camera on the tip, is introduced through the mouth into the esophagus and down to the stomach and duodenum.
The patient should be fasting for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure. A local anesthetic is sprayed in the patient’s throat then an intravenous medication is administered for sedation. The procedure is not painful and takes around 10 minutes. The gastroscopy is an outpatient procedure and the patient will go home after recovery from the sedation.
The indications include difficulty swallowing, refractory heartburn, severe upper abdominal pain, indigestion depending on the age of the patient, recurrent vomiting, liver disease, long lasting diarrhea and bloody vomitus or black stools which may indicate bleeding from the upper digestive system.
The physician performing the procedure may take biopsies, small pieces from the lining of the digestive system, to send for pathological analysis depending on the findings. The biopsies are not painful. He might also perform some therapeutic interventions like removal of a lesion, control of a bleeding, amongst others.
Most of the gastroscopies are done without any problems. Occasionally, complications might occur like bleeding, infection or perforation. They usually occur within 48 hours after the procedure and are managed accordingly.