What is a Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is a medical procedure that allows your doctor to visually inspect the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract including your esophagus, stomach and duodenum, which is the upper portion of your small intestine.

The doctor uses a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope for this procedure. The endoscope has a lens and light source on its tip, and it sends the video it captures to a video monitor so the doctor can examine and interpret the images.

Your doctor can pass a variety of instruments through the endoscope with little or no discomfort to you. For example, a gastroscopy may be used to perform a cytology test, in which a small brush is passed through the endoscope to collect cells for later analysis. Gastroscopy can also allow for a narrowed area to be stretched or dilated, treat bleeding, or remove polyps, which usually are benign growths, from the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.


Why You May Need a Gastroscopy?

The Gastroscopy procedure helps your doctor find the sources of symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing and the cause of bleeding from your upper gastrointestinal tract.

Gastroscopy is the gold standard for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

Your doctor can also use the gastroscopy to obtain a biopsy or small tissue sample. Biopsies are taken from different parts of the upper gastrointestinal tract to establish a diagnosis. Your doctor may take a biopsy for many reasons even if cancer is not suspected. For example a biopsy can test for Celiac disease and Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers.


Upper Endoscopy Preparations

For the best and safest exam, you should have an empty stomach. Do not eat any solids for approximately eight hours before your procedure. Do not consume anything orally (eat or drink anything), including water, for approximately four hours before your procedure.


Medication Questions

Please inform your doctor in advance of any medications you currently take, particularly antiplatelet agents, insulin, arthritis medications, aspirin products, anticoagulants (such as pradax and warfarin), clopidogrel or iron supplements. The doctor may tell you to adjust your normal dose before your procedure.

Also discuss any medication allergies you may have, as well as any medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.

You should continue to take your medications as usual unless the doctor specifically informs you not to. Some medications can interfere with your preparation or with the examination.


Gastroscopy Procedure

The doctor may begin by spraying your throat with a local anesthetic followed by a sedative to help you calm down and relax. Then you will be asked to lie on your side.

Once you are sedated or relaxed, the doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth and into your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Since the endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing, you may feel only slight discomfort.


Recovering from Gastroscopy

After the procedure, the clinic staff will monitor your recovery in the recovery room while the medications wear off. Your throat may feel a little sore, and the air introduced into your stomach during the procedure can cause you to feel slightly bloated. These are both minor discomforts and temporary conditions.

You’ll be able to eat after the procedure unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. The results of the examination will be explained to you. However, there may be a wait time for results of any biopsies and you may be called in for a follow-up visit.

If you’ve received sedatives for the procedure, you must have a responsible friend or relative drive you home and stay with you. Please note that even if you feel alert, your judgment and reflexes may be impaired for the rest of the day.


Gastroscopy Complications

Although complications can occur, they are rare, especially when trained and experienced gastroenterologists like our doctors perform the procedure.
A perforation or puncture in your gastrointestinal tract lining that may require surgery is extremely rare during this procedure.
You may experience bleeding where a polyp was removed or biopsy taken, but it’s often minimal and rarely requires a follow-up. This bleeding can last for several days after the procedure.

You may have a reaction to the sedatives, which is why it’s important to discuss your medication allergies. If you have heart or lung disease, these conditions can cause complications.

Although complications are very uncommon, you should learn to recognize their early symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever after the test, if you have trouble swallowing, if you experience increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain or if you notice any prolonged bleeding, including internal bleeding that reveals itself as black stools. Another uncommon complication is aspiration related pneumonia.

If you have any concerns about a possible complication, it’s always best to contact your doctor right away.


Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only trained and experienced physicians like the team at West GTA Endoscopy can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.