A gastroscopy is a test in which a gastroscope (a long flexible tube) is passes through the mouth and back of your throat into the upper digestive tract. It allows the physician to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine).
During the gastroscopy, if the doctor feels a suspicious or inflamed area needs greater investigation, the doctor may take a small piece of tissue (a biopsy) to be analyzed in the laboratory. A gastroscopy is also often used to control bleeding.
Many problems of the upper digestive tract, such as inflammation and gastrointestinal bleeding, cannot be diagnosed accurately by X-ray. Also, gastroscopy is more accurate in detecting ulcers and cancers than X-rays. This technique also allows for biopsies, cultures, stretching of narrowed areas, and injection of medications to stop bleeding.
Your doctor may give you medication through a vein to make you relaxed and comfortable, and your throat may be sprayed with a local anesthetic. You may be given extra oxygen through the nose. The procedure is extremely well tolerated, with little or no discomfort. You may fall asleep during or after the procedure. The tube will not interfere with your breathing. Gagging is usually prevented by the medication. Because your reflexes and judgment may be impaired by the medication you receive, it is strongly recommended that you be accompanied. You will not be able to drive for 24 hours following the procedure. After the gastroscopy, if you have received medication, you will remain in the endoscopy area until the effects of the medications have sufficiently worn off. Your throat may be sore for a few hours, and you may feel bloated for a few minutes. When you leave the department, you will be able to resume your usual diet.