What is gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy (referred to as upper endoscopy) is a procedure that examines the upper digestive tract including the esophagus, the stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (called the duodenum) [Figure 1]. A thin flexible tube with a tiny video camera at the tip is inserted through the mouth and advanced down the esophagus all the way to the duodenum [Figure 2]. The procedure is performed to check for conditions such as inflammation, acid reflux, infection such as helicobacter pylori infection, ulcers, polyps, and tumors. The procedure is performed in the endoscopy suite by Dr. Maher Abbas. The procedure takes 15 minutes or longer depending on your condition. It is usually performed under intravenous sedation with medications. An anesthetic spray to numb the throat is used in some patients. During the procedure, small pieces of the lining of the digestive tract (biopsies) can be taken for evaluation under the microscope.
When you arrive at the endoscopy suite, you will meet a nurse who will briefly review your medical history. You will change into a hospital gown and have your vital signs measured. You will have an intravenous (IV) line placed in your arm. This IV line will be used to provide your sedating medications during your procedure. You will be taken on a stretcher to the procedure room and you will be met by your doctor and the nurses. You will be given oxygen, and your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing will be monitored throughout the entire procedure.
What are the risks of gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is a safe procedure and Dr. Maher Abbas has performed thousands of endoscopic procedures. Minor risks include mild soreness of the throat, dizziness, medication reaction, nausea, abdominal discomfort with bloating and gas. Major complications are extremely rare and consist of bleeding or perforation (a small hole in the esophagus, stomach or intestine) which is usually treated endoscopically but on rare occasions can require hospitalization and another endoscopic or surgical procedure.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
The day before the procedure, eat a light dinner. Come fasting for 8 hours (no food or liquids). You can have water up to 4 hours prior to the procedure. If you take medications for your heart or blood pressure, you can take them as soon as you get up with a small sip of water. If you take medications for diabetes, blood thinners, aspirin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (medications used for pain, arthritis, or headaches, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, etoricoxib), or have a heart condition, let Dr. Maher Abbas and his nurse know at the time when you book the procedure. You will need a driver to take you home after the procedure.
Kindly arrive 1 hour prior to your scheduled time to avoid cancellation of your procedure.
Post gastroscopy care
Immediately after the procedure, you will rest for 30 to 60 minutes in the recovery area. It is best to take the remainder of the day off work and avoid making critical decisions because of the sedative you will be given. You can resume your usual activity the following day. If biopsies are taken, avoid strenuous activity or vigorous exercise such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise for 1 week. You can drive starting the following day.
Once you recover from the sedative given during your procedure, you will receive your first meal in the recovery area of endoscopy suite. If you have nausea, it is best to remain on a liquid diet for the rest of the day. If you drink alcohol, refrain from such beverages the day of your procedure.
You can resume your home medications. If you are on any blood thinner, ask Dr. Maher Abbas for specific instructions. If you have discomfort you can take 1 to 2 acetaminophen 500 mg pill every 8 hours [panadol, paracetamol, tylenol] or start any medication prescribed by Dr. Maher Abbas. Drink plenty of water.
Signs to watch for
If biopsies are taken during the procedure, a very small amount of dark blood can be expected with the first bowel movement. Gastroscopy is a safe procedure. If any of the following symptoms occurs, contact Dr. Maher Abbas and come to the emergency department immediately:
- Chest pain, racing heart beats, or shortness of breath
- Fever with Temperature >38 ° Celsius, >100.4 ° Fahrenheit
- Persistent nausea or continuous cramps
- Redness and pain at the medication injection site
- Severe abdominal pain with distention
- Vomiting of blood or passage of bloody or black stools
The proper follow-up appointment will be scheduled. If medications are prescribed, pick up from the pharmacy and take as instructed. If biopsies are taken, the results will usually become available within a week.
Any questions? Contact Dr. Maher A. Abbas’ office nurse here.