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Preparing for a Gastroscopy: Tips and Guidelines

Facing a gastroscopy, a medical procedure that involves the examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract, can be a source of anxiety for many individuals. However, with proper preparation and a clear understanding of what to expect, the process can be more manageable. 

In this guide, we will explore tips and guidelines to help individuals prepare for a gastroscopy, covering everything from dietary considerations to mental preparation.

Understanding Gastroscopy

A gastroscopy involves the use of a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera (endoscope) to examine the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Gastroscopy is commonly used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. It allows healthcare professionals to visualize and assess the condition of the upper digestive system, diagnose issues such as ulcers or inflammation, and even perform certain medical interventions.

Preparing for the Procedure

Consultation with Healthcare Provider

Before the gastroscopy, individuals typically have a consultation with their healthcare provider. This is an opportunity to discuss any existing medical conditions, medications, and allergies that may impact the procedure.

Clear Communication

Open communication with the healthcare team is essential. Individuals should share any concerns or fears they have about the procedure to ensure that the medical team can address them appropriately.

Understanding the Benefits

Understanding the potential benefits of the gastroscopy, such as early detection of issues or the ability to address certain conditions during the procedure, can provide individuals with a sense of purpose and motivation.

Dietary Considerations

  • Fasting Period: A crucial aspect of preparing for a gastroscopy is fasting. Typically, individuals are required to fast for a specific period before the procedure, usually starting the night before. If the scope is done in the afternoon, typically 6-8 hours of prior fasting  is observed. This ensures that the stomach is empty, providing optimal conditions for the examination.
  • Clear Liquids: In the hours leading up to the gastroscopy, individuals may be allowed to consume clear liquids such as water, clear broth, or black coffee. It’s essential to adhere to the specific guidelines provided by the healthcare team.
  • Medication Adjustments: Some medications may need to be adjusted or temporarily stopped before the procedure. This includes blood-thinning medications, which may increase the risk of bleeding during the gastroscopy, or potent blood pressure medications. It’s crucial to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions regarding medication adjustments.

Physical Preparation

  • Comfortable Clothing: Wearing loose, comfortable clothing on the day of the gastroscopy can contribute to a more relaxed experience. This makes it easier to change into a hospital gown if necessary and ensures comfort during the procedure.
  • Understanding Sedation: Gastroscopies are often performed with sedation to ensure comfort. Understanding the type of sedation that will be used and its potential effects can alleviate concerns. Individuals may be drowsy after the procedure, and it’s advisable to plan for a period of rest at home.
  • Arrangements for Transportation: Since sedation is administered during a gastroscopy, individuals are not allowed to drive themselves home afterward. Arranging for a friend or family member to provide transportation is an important logistical consideration.

Mental Preparation

  • Information Gathering: Gathering information about the procedure, including watching educational videos or reading materials provided by the healthcare provider, can demystify the process and help individuals know what to expect.
  • Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: Practice breathing and relaxation techniques to manage anxiety. Techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness can be effective in calming nerves before the procedure.
  • Positive Visualization: Visualizing a positive outcome and focusing on the potential benefits of the gastroscopy can help shift the mindset from anxiety to a more positive outlook.

Day of the Procedure

  • Arriving Early: Arriving at the medical facility early allows time for necessary paperwork, administrative procedures, and any last-minute discussions with the healthcare team.
  • Discussion with Healthcare Team: Before the procedure, individuals often have a final discussion with the healthcare team. This is an opportunity to ask any remaining questions, clarify concerns, and ensure that all aspects of the procedure are understood.
  • Consent Form: Signing a consent form is a standard procedure before any medical intervention. It indicates that the individual understands the purpose and risks of the gastroscopy and gives permission for the procedure to proceed.

During the Gastroscopy

  • Sedation Administration: Sedation is typically administered through an intravenous (IV) line. The level of sedation can vary, from conscious sedation, where individuals remain awake but relaxed, to deeper sedation where they may not recall the procedure.
  • Comfort Measures: The medical team takes steps to ensure the comfort of the individual undergoing the gastroscopy. This includes using a numbing spray to minimize throat discomfort.
  • Communication with the Team: Individuals should communicate any discomfort or concerns with the medical team during the procedure. This ensures that adjustments can be made to enhance comfort.

Post-Gastroscopy Care

  • Recovery Period: After the gastroscopy, individuals are monitored in a recovery area until the effects of sedation wear off. The medical team ensures that vital signs are stable before individuals are discharged.
  • Post-Sedation Effects: It’s common to experience some drowsiness or grogginess after the procedure due to the lingering effects of sedation. Having a designated companion for transportation and support is essential during this period.
  • Dietary Resumption: Individuals are advised to start with light, easily digestible foods and gradually progress to a regular diet.

Potential Post-Gastroscopy Considerations

  • Throat Discomfort: Some individuals may experience mild throat discomfort or a sensation of fullness after the gastroscopy. This is normal and typically resolves within a day or two.
  • Bloating or Gas: Air introduced during the procedure may cause temporary bloating or gas for a few hours. Moving around and walking can help alleviate this discomfort.
  • Follow-Up Appointments: Depending on the findings of the gastroscopy, healthcare providers may schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results, provide additional recommendations, or plan further interventions if necessary.

When to Seek Medical Attention

  • Complications Are Rare: While complications from a gastroscopy are rare, it’s important to be aware of potential signs of complications, including severe abdominal pain, persistent bleeding, or difficulty breathing.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If persistent symptoms, such as severe throat pain, chest pain, or persistent nausea and vomiting, occur after the gastroscopy, seeking prompt medical attention is advised.

Conclusion

Preparing for a gastroscopy involves a combination of physical, dietary, and mental considerations. Open communication with healthcare providers, understanding the procedure, and following pre-procedural guidelines contribute to a smoother experience. With the benefits of early detection and intervention in mind, individuals can approach gastroscopy with a sense of purpose and proactive engagement in their healthcare journey.

 

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