What diseases can be ruled out with gastroscopy?
Gastroscopy is an examination method for ruling out disorders of the upper gastrointestinal system (the eosophagus, stomach and duodenum). Abnormalities of the mucous membrane such as possible ulcers, polyps or tumors may be shown with this method. It is the most important tool for diagnosing stomach cancer. In addition, it is also useful for minor procedures such as taking samples for biopsy and hemostasis (arresting bleeding). Samples thus obtained will serve to identify the type of abnormality or, for example, the bacteria causing the ulcer.
Is the procedure painful?
The procedure is more uncomfortable than painful. Your mouth and your throat will be sprayed with a local anesthetic not so much for pain as for avoiding esophageal spasms and the gag reflex. (After the examination, your throat will remain numb for awhile due to the spray. You must not eat or drink until the numbness wears off to avoid swallowing wrong.)
How should I prepare for the procedure?
You need to present for your appointment with an empty stomach. You may eat for the last time the night before. You must not drink any fluids just before the examination, and it would be best if you would avoid smoking since it also increases the production of saliva and gastric juices. Removable dentures must be removed for the examination.
Bring all your previous medical records with you. Be sure to tell your doctor if you suffer from hemophilia or if you are taking anticoagulant medication since, a greater than normal blood loss, could be problematic in the case of a biopsy.
What happens during the examination?
You will lie on your side and the doctor will pass a flexible tube (endoscope) into your esophagus. The endoscope contains fiber-optics allowing your doctor to examine your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Air may be blown into your stomach through a side channel to make viewing easier and tissues removed, biopsies taken or a blood vessel treated in the case of bleeding through another channel.
Will a follow-up examination be needed?
Your doctor will decide, depending on the results, whether you will need further examinations or tests such as x-rays of the esophagus and stomach, biopsy, bacterial culture, etc.