Endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure done to allow visualisation of the internal gastrointestinal tract, for diagnosis or treatment of various conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon and rectum. Using an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube fitted with a light and camera, your gastroenterologist can view images of your digestive tract on a colour monitor. Gastroscopy, otherwise known as upper endoscopy, is one type of endoscopic procedure done for the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Why might a gastroscopy be necessary?

A gastroscopy may be necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum such as stomach ulcers, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), coeliac disease, Barrett's oesophagus, portal hypertension, stomach and oesophageal cancer. It can also be used to investigate the cause of symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn, difficulties swallowing, anaemia, vomiting blood or very dark stool.

Aside from diagnosis, an upper endoscopy may be used to perform procedures and treat various issues affecting the upper gastrointestinal tract. For example, a gastroscopy can be used to widen a narrowed oesophagus, stop severe internal bleeding, remove cancerous tumours, non-cancerous growths or foreign objects. It can also be used for placement of a feeding tube known as a gastrostomy.

What does the procedure involve?

Gastroscopy is a non-surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis. While conscious for the procedure, you should only experience mild discomfort for 20 – 30 minutes. Younger children in need of a gastroscopy may be sedated for the duration of the procedure. Prior to the procedure, you will be instructed to refrain from eating for at least 8 hours. You will be given an anaesthetic throat spray to numb your throat for the procedure. Next, the thin endoscope tube is inserted into your mouth, and you will be asked by Dr Mbao to swallow the endoscope to allow it to pass through your oesophagus. At this point, your gastroenterologist may pump air into the endoscope to inflate the stomach. This is done to get a clearer view of the lining and surrounding tissues. The monitor will give Dr Mbao a clear view of the internal structure of the gastrointestinal tract from the oesophagus to the small intestine. From here, your gastroenterologist should be able to identify the cause of symptoms and make a diagnosis. In suitable cases, he may also be able to treat the issue. Afterwards, a mild sore throat, bloating, gas and cramping are to be expected.