What is Upper GI Endoscopy (Gastroscopy)?
The term “endoscopy” refers to a special technique for looking inside a part of the body. “Upper GI” is the portion of gastrointestinal tract (the digestive system) that includes the esophagus, the swallowing tube leading to the stomach, which is connected to the duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine. The esophagus carries food from the mouth for digestion in the stomach and duodenum. This procedure is often referred to as a "gastroscopy".
A gastrocopy is a procedure performed by a gastroenterologist, a well-trained subspecialist who uses the endoscopy to diagnose and, in some cases, treat problems of the upper digestive system.
The endoscope is a long thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the endoscope, the gastroenterologist can safely guide the instrument to carefully examine the inside lining of the upper digestive system.
The high quality picture from the endoscope is shown on a TV monitor; it gives a clear, detailed view. In many cases, upper a GI endoscopy is a more precise examination than X-ray studies.
More information about the procedure, as well as preparation instructions, can be found in this video:
How is it done?
During the gastroscopy, everything will be done to help you be as comfortable as possible. Your blood pressure, pulse, and the oxygen level in your blood will be carefully monitored. Your doctor may give you a sedative medication; the drug will make you relaxed and drowsy, but you will remain awake enough to cooperate.
You may also have your throat sprayed or be asked to gargle with a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable as the endoscope is passed. A supportive mouthpiece will be placed to help you keep your mouth open during the endoscopy. Once you are fully prepared, your doctor will gently maneuver the endoscope into position.
As the endoscope is slowly and carefully inserted, air is introduced through it to help your doctor see better. During the procedure, you should feel no pain and it will not interfere with your breathing.
Your doctor will use the endoscope to look closely for any problems that may require evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment.
In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample of tissue, called a biopsy, for later examination under the microscope. This too is a painless procedure. In other cases, the endoscope can be used to treat a problem such as active bleeding from an ulcer.
When your gastroscopy is completed, you will be cared for in a recovery area until most effects of the medication have worn off.
Your doctor will inform you about the results of the upper GI endoscopy and provide any additional information you need to know.
After your gastroscopy, you will be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal activity.
By the time you are ready to go home, you’ll feel stronger and more alert. Nevertheless, you should plan on resting for the remainder of the day. This means not driving, so you’ll need to have a family member or friend take you home.
Why is it done?
A gastroscopy can be helpful in the evaluation or diagnosis of various problems, including difficult or painful swallowing, pain in the stomach or abdomen, and bleeding, ulcers, and tumors.
Risks & complications
Years of experience have proved that the upper GI endoscopy is a safe procedure. Typically, it takes only 15-20 minutes. Complications rarely occur. These include perforation – a puncture of the intestinal wall, which could require transfusion.
Occasionally, minor problems may persist, such as a mild sore throat, bloating, or cramping; these should disappear in 24 hours or less.
As sedation medications need to be used for the procedure, there are risks associated with the medications used, for example, allergic reaction and/or side effects. As with any invasive procedures, there are also risks of infections.
Again, these complications are unlikely. Be sure to discuss any specific concerns you may have with your doctor.
The doctor may discuss alternative approaches to the upper GI endoscopy with you.
Patients who are deemed fit after assessment(s) with the specialist(s).
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