Gastroscopy, also known as an upper endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), is a medical procedure used to examine the upper digestive tract. It involves the insertion of a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope through the mouth to visualize the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
Gastroscopy is a valuable diagnostic tool that allows healthcare providers to identify and diagnose various gastrointestinal conditions. In this article, we will explain the gastroscopy procedure, step by step, to help patients better understand what to expect during this important medical examination.
Preparing for the Gastroscopy
Before the gastroscopy procedure, your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions to ensure the examination’s success and safety. Typically, patients are advised to fast for a specific period before the procedure.
This fasting period allows the stomach to empty, providing a clear view of the upper digestive tract during the examination. Your healthcare provider will inform you about the fasting duration and any other pre-procedure preparations you need to follow, such as holding off on certain medications.
Arrival at the Medical Facility
On the day of your gastroscopy, you will be asked to arrive at the medical facility or endoscopy center at the scheduled time. Before the procedure, a nurse or healthcare professional will review your medical history, medications, and allergies to ensure your safety during the examination.
Administration of Sedation (Optional)
Gastroscopy is generally well-tolerated, but it can cause discomfort or anxiety for some patients. As such, many healthcare providers offer sedation options to improve patient comfort during the procedure.
Sedation can range from mild sedation that keeps you awake but relaxed to deeper sedation where you may fall asleep during the examination. Your healthcare provider will discuss the sedation options with you and help you choose the level of sedation that best suits your needs and preferences.
Positioning for the Procedure
Once you are ready for the gastroscopy, you will be positioned on your left side. The endoscopy team will ensure that you are comfortable and well-supported during the examination. A mouthguard may be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth and the endoscope during the insertion.
Insertion of the Endoscope
The gastroscopy procedure begins with the insertion of the endoscope through your mouth. The endoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny camera and light source at the tip. It is carefully guided down your throat, esophagus, and into your stomach and duodenum.
The endoscope’s camera sends real-time images to a monitor, allowing the healthcare provider to examine the lining of your upper digestive tract.
Inflation of the Stomach
To improve visibility and maneuverability, air may be introduced into your stomach through the endoscope. This process is called insufflation and temporarily expands the stomach for a better view of the digestive tract. Some patients may experience mild bloating or discomfort during this stage, which subsides after the procedure.
Examination of the Upper Digestive Tract
As the endoscope advances, the healthcare provider will carefully examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. They will search for abnormalities such as inflammation, ulcers, tumors, or other signs of gastrointestinal conditions.
Biopsies may be taken during the procedure for further evaluation, although you will not feel this as the lining of the digestive tract does not contain pain receptors.
Removal of Polyps or Treatment (if needed)
If any polyps or small abnormalities are detected during the gastroscopy, your healthcare provider may remove them or perform therapeutic interventions as necessary. Procedures like polypectomy, where polyps are removed using specialized tools passed through the endoscope, can be conducted during the examination.
Completion of the Gastroscopy
Once the healthcare provider has thoroughly examined the upper digestive tract and any necessary interventions are completed, the endoscope is slowly withdrawn. This marks the conclusion of the gastroscopy procedure.
Recovery and Aftercare
After the gastroscopy, you will be moved to a recovery area to rest and recover from the effects of sedation, if used. The medical team will monitor your vital signs and ensure that you are alert and stable before discharging you. If you received sedation, you will need someone to accompany you home, as you may still feel drowsy.
Before you leave the medical facility, your healthcare provider will provide post-procedure instructions. These instructions may include dietary recommendations, restrictions on certain activities, and any necessary medication management. It is essential to follow these guidelines to aid in a smooth recovery and reduce the risk of complications.
Possible Side Effects
While gastroscopy is generally safe, some patients may experience minor side effects. These can include a sore throat, mild bloating, or gas. These effects typically subside within a few hours after the procedure.
Reporting Any Concerns
If you experience severe abdominal pain, persistent or worsening symptoms, fever, or significant bleeding after the gastroscopy, contact your healthcare provider immediately. While rare, these symptoms may indicate a complication that requires prompt attention.
Obtaining and Reviewing Results
Your healthcare provider will discuss the preliminary findings with you after the gastroscopy. Biopsy results, if taken, may take a few days to be processed, and you will likely have a follow-up appointment to discuss them in detail.
Gastroscopy is a valuable diagnostic procedure that enables healthcare providers to examine the upper digestive tract for signs of gastrointestinal conditions. By understanding the steps involved in the gastroscopy procedure, patients can approach the examination with greater confidence and ease.
The preparation, insertion of the endoscope, examination of the upper digestive tract, and post-procedure care are all crucial aspects of the gastroscopy process. By following the instructions provided by your healthcare provider and communicating any concerns, you can ensure a smooth and successful gastroscopy experience that contributes to maintaining your digestive health and overall well-being.