What is Gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is a procedure developed for investigating disorders of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and the duodenum (the first part of the small bowel). A gastroscope is a flexible instrument, which has a minute video camera at the end, allowing a direct view and sampling of the lining. These samples can then be examined under the microscope or tested chemically, which makes the procedure very accurate in establishing a diagnosis.
Why am I having a gastroscopy?
Patients have gastroscopy for several reasons. For example, there may be symptoms such as indigestion or discomfort suggesting an ulcer. Alternatively, it may be done to treat certain conditions through the gastroscope.
Risks of a gastroscopy
Complications of a gastroscopy, such as perforation (puncture) of your stomach or bowel wall or major bleeding (for example, requiring blood transfusion) are extremely uncommon.
When the examination only inspects the bowel or taking a biopsy, these complications occur in less than 1 in 10,000 procedures.
When other procedures or operations are carried out through the gastroscope the risk may be greater and this will depend on the condition being treated and the operation proposed. Ask your doctor, or the doctor performing the gastroscopy, about the risks related to any additional procedures or operations.
Very uncommonly, there may be damage to teeth from the mouthguard used during the gastroscopy. If you have false or loose teeth, please inform the staff before the test.
Gastroscopy can involve sedation. Risks of sedation are uncommon but may include difficulty breathing and abnormal heart rhythms.
Serious sedation reactions may be more common in patients with severe heart or chest disease. These complications are usually avoided by administering oxygen during the procedure and monitoring the oxygen level in the blood.
Some patients wish to have the gastroscopy without sedation, so if this applies to you please discuss this when you attend for the examination.