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Gastroscopy is performed by inserting a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera (a gastroscope) down the oesophagus, and into the stomach and initial part of the small intestine (the duodenum). Hence the name Oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy, or OGD for short.

OGDs Are Performed In Patients To Check For Conditions Such As:

• Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
• Gastric ulcers
• Barrett's oesophagus
Gastric cancer
• Coeliac disease  

Who Should Get A Gastroscopy?

Common indications for an OGD include:

Diagnosis: persistent gastric pains, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, unexplained anemia, ulcers (gastric and duodenal), Barrett's oesophagus.

Biopsy: eg. Following an abnormal barium meal or barium swallow examination.

Therapeutic: removal of ingested foreign bodies, tamponade of bleeding oesophageal varices, feeding tube placement, injection/banding to stop bleeding

Preparing For The Gastroscopy

You will need to ensure that your stomach is empty before the procedure. Generally, you will be asked to fast for at least 6-8 hours preceding the gastroscope. Medications that you usually take, such as those for hypertension, should be continued. Always check with your doctor should you have any doubts.

Dentures, glasses and contact lenses, if any, will have to be removed. You will usually be given some form of sedation to make you more comfortable.

The Gastroscopic Examination

You will be made to lie to your side with your head bent slightly forward. An anaesthetic will be sprayed to numb the back of your throat, thus reducing your urge to gag. Your doctor will place a mouth guard over your teeth (to prevent you from biting the scope) before putting the well lubricated gastroscope into your mouth. As the scope is guided gently down your oesophagus and into your stomach, you will be asked to swallow. Try to relax and follow your doctor's instructions. A nurse will generally be on hand to suck the excess saliva from your mouth.

Once the gastroscope has reached your stomach, some air will be pumped in to expand your stomach. You may experience slight fullness in your stomach at this stage. Your doctor will then proceed to examine the linings of your stomach and duodenum in sections to ensure that all surfaces have been examined. Should there be a need for a biopsy to be taken, this can be done by passing a small instrument down a side port of the gastroscope. Tissue samples may be sent to the laboratory for testing to determine the nature of the tissue (ie if benign or malignant). Sometimes, testing for H. pylori infection is also done.

Once the examination is completed, the gastroscope is removed.

The whole procedure usually lasts between 10 to 20 minutes.

Following The Gastroscopy

You will generally be made to rest in the recovery area of the clinic until the sedation wears out. If any of the following occur within 48 hours of the procedure, you should consult your doctor immediately:

• Fever
• Vomiting of blood
• Difficulty breathing
• Worsening abdominal pain
• Allergic reactions such as eye swelling, wheezing or rashes which may occur with medications prescribed for the gastroscopy

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Further Reading

The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.