Gastroscopy

Gastroscopy, oesophagoscopy & duodenoscopy are endoscopic methods used to examine the upper digestive tract. In the process, the oesophagus, the stomach and then the duodenum can be examined with the gastroscope one after the other. A tissue sample (biopsy) will be taken of the suspicious changes. Sometimes smaller, benign tumours (polyps) are removed during the gastroscopy.

A gastroscope is used during a gastroscopy. It is a flexible, tubular-shaped instrument with a built-in mini camera, which transmits the images it takes to a screen.

A gastroscopy is carried out when the patient has a suspected disease of the stomach, the oesophagus or the duodenum. The majority of suspected diseases are oesophageal or gastric inflammations, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers; however, much less often oesophageal cancer or stomach cancer.

What preparations are carried out before the procedure?

Your stomach must be empty for the gastroscopy. For this reason, you should not eat or drink anything at least six hours beforehand.

If you are taking blood-thinning medication, you must stop taking it a few days before the examination. You will usually receive a sedative directly before the examination. Perhaps even a mild anaesthetic if you would like to sleep while it is taking place.

How is the examination carried out?

First, the throat is anaesthetised with a spray to suppress the gag reflux. Then you lie on your side for the examination. The approx. 1-cm thick gastroscope is carefully fed through a bite-protection ring in this position over the tongue into the throat and the oesophagus. You need to swallow the instrument. This is not easy to do; however,it makes the process easier. As soon as you have swallowed the gastroscope, it will be less uncomfortable when the tube is fed in further. You will not feel any pain while this is happening as the mucous membrane of the digestive tract has no pain nerves. If no instruments are required for a gastroscopy, it can also be carried out via a thin tube through the nose.

During the examination, air is blown intermittently through the gastroscope to gain a better view of the mucous membrane.  If necessary, tissue samples can be taken, foreign bodies removed or polyps ablated. Depending on whether only the stomach, the oesophagus or the entire upper digestive tract is being examined, the examination takes between 10 and 30 minutes.

What is the success rate of this examination?

The examination is ideal for detecting changes in the oesophagus, the stomach and the duodenum. If there are foreign bodies, polyps and haemorrhaging, a gastroscopy can also be used to successfully treat the aforementioned.

What are the possible complications and risks of this examination?

A gastroscopy is a low-risk examination. Minor injuries to the mucous membrane or haemorrhaging may sometimes occur. The tube also irritates the throat and the larynx, which can sometimes cause temporary hoarseness.

What happens after the examination?

No specific follow-up care is usually required after a gastroscopy. However, the next steps will be decided based on the findings of the examination. If tissue samples have been taken, they must first be examined. Therefore, it can take several days before a conclusive diagnosis is available.

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