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What is a Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy, also known as endoscopy, is a medical procedure in which a flexible tube with a very small high-resolution chip that functions like a camera is inserted, typically through the mouth, though occasionally through the nose.  Its purpose is to visually inspect and examine the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum, collectively referred to as the foregut. This procedure can also facilitate additional medical interventions. It permits the collection of tissue samples for analysis through biopsies, and it enables various procedures such as stretching narrowed areas of the wall (dilatation), removal or destruction of abnormal tissue, insertion of tubes, and even intentional incisions in the gastrointestinal wall.

What is it used for?

Gastroscopy provides a direct examination of:

  • Oesophagus
  • Stomach
  • Duodenum

Aiding in the investigation of many symptoms including;

  • upper abdominal pain
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • unexplained weight loss

The procedure allows the identification of abnormalities in anatomy, mucosal lining, and gut contents, including issues like hiatus hernias, abnormal mucosa, ulcers, and cancer. It can also reveal external abnormalities pressing on the foregut, such as tumours or enlarged blood vessels.

Biopsies may be taken for analysis, primarily to rule out cancer or investigate other conditions like infections or coeliac disease.

A Gastroscopy is not only a vital diagnostic tool for foregut issues but also serves therapeutic purposes. It can stop bleeding, dilate narrow passages, or remove abnormalities like Barrett’s oesophagus or polyps.

Additionally, it enables procedures like Bravo capsule placement for reflux measurement and interventions such as feeding tube insertion or endoscopic operations for conditions like achalasia.

Is a Gastroscopy Safe?

In the UK, over 750,000 gastroscopies are conducted each year, and the incidence of complications is extremely low. However, like any medical procedure, there are potential risks.  The risks can include bleeding, typically originating from the biopsy site, and perforation, which usually follows a dilation procedure. Occasionally, patients may experience complications linked to sedation.

If you encounter any problems after the procedure, it is essential to notify us.

What to Expect with a Gastroscopy:

You will receive detailed instructions prior to your admission.  You may be required to fast before the procedure to ensure an empty stomach.  Adjustments to your regular medication regimen might also be necessary.

The procedure is minimally invasive and typically lasts for only 10-15 minutes, with the majority of individuals finding it easily tolerable. It is almost always carried out with intravenous sedation. Patients can typically return home immediately after the procedure.