A gastroscopy, also known as upper endoscopy, is a common diagnostic procedure in which an endoscope is utilised to view the inner chambers of the top segment of the gastrointestinal tract, namely the oesophagus, stomach and the initial portion of the small intestine – the duodenum. An endoscope is an apparatus that holds a light and camera on one end, with the other outer section connected to a monitor. It aids in capturing detailed images of the gastric tract and displaying them with high clarity on the screen.
Gastroscopy - Examination of the gullet and stomach

Why It Is Done:

The procedure of gastroscopy is very useful in:

  • Detecting dysphagia – an ailment with difficulty in swallowing, as well as objects/food particles trapped in the oesophagus and tubular ducts of the gut
  • Probing the cause of incessant intense stomach aches
  • Examining bleeding disorders in the gastrointestinal tract, which results in iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Determining instances of peptic ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux and GERD i.e. gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Resolving gut-related issues like removing obstacles in the oesophagus, excising both tissue outgrowths like polyps that do not signify cancer and small-sized cancerous tumour masses
  • Diagnosing cases of stomach cancer and oesophagal cancer
  • Facilitating the passage of food and nutrients into the stomach, in patients with difficulties in swallowing or consuming meals normally

Also Read: Heartburn: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Procedure:

A gastroscopy is carried out in a well-equipped diagnostic facility or hospital by a healthcare professional. The patient is asked to don loose comfortable clothing or is provided with a clean hospital gown in case their clothes are not convenient to proceed with the test. Prior to the gastroscopy, the patient is administered local anaesthesia utilising a spray on their throat, so as to lessen sensitivity in the area while inserting the endoscope.

Following this, the patient is told to lie down on their left side on the hospital bed and the doctor inserts the endoscope at the rear end of the mouth, instructing the patient to swallow the starting segment of the tube. The tube is then maneuvered such that it passes all along the oesophagus and stomach. The entire protocol takes only about 10 – 15 minutes and the patient can resume normal activities at home and work post the gastroscopy.

Risks:

Generally, a gastroscopy is a safe procedure that does not lead to any serious complications. At times, certain risks occur in a gastroscopy protocol, such as:

  • Accidental tearing of a blood vessel in the oesophagus or stomach leading to bleeding
  • Internal bleeding that can further result in the elimination of black stools with a rough, tar-like texture
  • Pain in the neck, chest and stomach
  • Discomfort and aching while swallowing food
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

Results:

The results of an upper endoscopy are provided to the patient based on the reason for conducting the diagnostic process. If the doctor was assessing the presence of ulcers or situations of GERD, then the results will be made available the same day of the test and the medical expert recommends suitable treatment for the patient.

Also Read: GERD: 5 Unusual Symptoms Of This Digestive Disorder You Should Never Ignore

However, if any abnormal growths in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum are detected in the gastroscopy, then the doctor may even collect a biopsy i.e. tissue sample from the gut and send them to the laboratory for further detailed analyses. In such instances, the results of the gastroscopy are available only after a week or two, wherein the patient schedules a consultation with the doctor, who details the proper mode of treatment for the same, depending on whether the growths are non-cancerous or cancerous.