What is a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is a medical examination of your oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum (upper bowel). It is performed using a flexible tube with a tiny camera and light called a gastroscope. The gastroscope transmits images to a monitor so that your doctor can investigate the health of your digestive tract.
Why do I need a gastroscopy?
Your doctor may recommend a gastroscopy if he or she wants to investigate symptoms associated with digestive tract problems such as nausea, indigestion or difficulty swallowing. A gastroscopy can also show if an ulcer, polyp or other growth is present.
What happens during a gastroscopy?
If you are having a gastroscopy you will need to have an empty stomach. This will allow the doctor to see clearly. It will also prevent you from vomiting. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the procedure.
Immediately before your gastroscopy you will be given light sedation. This will make you feel sleepy and relaxed. You will not feel or remember anything about the procedure.
After you have been sedated, the doctor will insert the flexible tube into your mouth and down your oesophagus. This tube will be guided into the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. From there, it will be gently withdrawn and your doctor will examine your digestive tract. Pictures may be taken of parts of the tract and your doctor might take a biopsy of anything unusual. He or she may also remove small polyps as part of this procedure.
In total, a gastroscopy procedure usually takes 15 minutes.
Risks and potential complications from a gastroscopy
A gastroscopy is a safe procedure, however, like all medical interventions risks and complications can sometimes arise. These include:
- Bleeding (< 1 %)
- Perforation ( < 1 in 5000 cases)
- Adverse reaction to the anaesthetic
What is the cost of a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is an elective procedure that in Australia is currently performed mainly in clinics and hospitals. Medicare provide a rebate but there may be a gap you will need to pay. A portion of the cost for your gastroscopy may be covered by your private health insurance and you should discuss this with your provider.
Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
Recovery from a gastroscopy
After your gastroscopy you will go into a recovery area. Once you are fully awake (usually within the hour) you will be offered a drink and something light to eat. Most people can go home after a few hours.
It’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions around taking care of yourself at home. Generally, over the next 24 hours, you should:
- Avoid driving as the medications will still have a sedative effect
- Avoid operating machinery
- Avoid signing any legal documents
- Avoid consuming alcohol as it can interact with your medication
- Follow any dietary suggestions made by your doctor.
You will also need to make a follow up appointment with your doctor to discuss the results of your gastroscopy. Your doctor will advise of the best time for this.