Gastroscopy is used for persistent complaints in the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The physician can diagnose diseases such as gastric or duodenal ulcer, Helicobacter pylori infection, or upper digestive tract bleeding. The gastroscopy can be done either with or without anesthesia - usually a local anesthetic of the pharynx is sufficient. Learn more about here Preparation, course and duration of a gastroscopy.
When is a gastroscopy performed?
A gastroscopy is always useful if there are persistent complaints in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. These include frequent heartburn, dysphagia or chronic cough. Likewise, a gastroscopy may be useful for pain in the upper abdomen, constant flatulence, persistent nausea, blood in the stool or an unclear weight loss.
A gastroscopy can clarify whether, for example, the following diseases or injuries are present:
- Ulcers in the stomach or duodenum
- Pruning (diverticulum)
- Varicose veins in the esophagus
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- internal bleeding in the upper digestive tract.
Preparation for the gastroscopy: Do without food
You do not actually have to prepare extra for a gastroscopy. Important for the investigation is only that the upper digestive tract is free of food. That's why you should go to the investigation appear sober, This means that you should stop eating or drinking eight hours before the exam. If you are thirsty, you can drink a bit of clear water.
If you are taking blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants), you should consult your doctor before the examination. Ask him if and when you should stop taking the medications to avoid internal bleeding.
Course of the gastroscopy
A gastroscopy is today usually performed on an outpatient basis in the hospital or in the practice of a gastroenterologist. An inpatient stay in the hospital is rarely necessary. Usually, the examination does not take long, usually it is completed in a few minutes.
For the examination, a so-called gastroscope is used. It is a flexible plastic tube that is about one meter long and has a diameter of less than one centimeter. So you do not bite on the tube, you get a teething ring between the teeth.
The hose is equipped among other things with light and a miniature camera. This allows the doctor to carefully examine the esophagus, stomach and duodenum from the inside. The pictures taken by the miniature camera are transferred to a monitor. The doctor can also gently introduce air into the digestive tract through the gastroscope. As a result, this something expands and changes are more visible.
Recognize and treat diseases
About the plastic tube, the doctor is possible to suck liquids such as blood or saliva. This ensures that he can always get an optimal picture of the investigated region. In addition, he can also introduce small instruments such as forceps or slings to take a tissue sample (biopsy).
During the gastroscopy, the doctor can not only detect possible diseases, but also initiate first treatment steps. This allows minor tissue changes to be removed or bleeding to be stopped. This can be done either by injecting an anti-bleeding agent or by attaching rubber bands or metal clips. That some diseases can be treated directly is one great advantage of the gastroscopy compared to other treatments.
Risks and side effects
Gastroscopy rarely causes problems. Only when introducing the gastroscope, the patients often feel a choking sensation. In some cases, the plastic tubing can also cause injury and inadequate breathing. To prevent respiratory problems, patients' pulse and oxygen saturation are monitored during and after the exam.
Loose teeth may cause damage to the teeth by introducing the gastroscope. In very rare cases severe complications such as cardiac arrhythmia or pneumonia can occur.
With or without anesthesia?
A gastroscopy is a bit uncomfortable, but usually causes no pain. Therefore, a local anesthetic is sufficient for the examination: Before the gastroscope is introduced into the esophagus, the pharynx is slightly anesthetized with a spray. In addition, patients can - if they so desire - receive a short-term anesthetic, so that they do not notice the examination itself.
Such anesthesia is not a general anesthetic. Patients are only given sedatives such as diazepam. After the anesthesia, however, you should be picked up at the hospital by an escort. You must not drive or engage in dangerous activities until the next day. You must not make important decisions immediately after the anesthetic.
After the gastroscopy
After gastroscopy, there is often a discomfort in the throat caused by the gastroscope insertion. Typical symptoms are hoarseness and a scratchy feeling in the throat. As long as you notice a numb feeling in the esophagus (about two to three hours after the examination), you should not eat anything or drink anything. Otherwise you may be swallowed.