Gastroscopy - what is it and how can you prepare for it?

Gastroscopy - what is it and how can you prepare for it?


Gastroscopy - and more specifically esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) - is an endoscopic (i.e. inside the body) examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract, which allows for the assessment of the esophageal mucosa, stomach and proximal duodenal segment, and, if necessary, performing procedures in this area.

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What happens during a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy procedure lasts from a few to several minutes, during which time the patient assumes a position lying on the left side. Most often, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia of the throat with lidocaine spray, then a mouthpiece is put in, which prevents a patient from closing their mouth if discomfort is felt. Then, the doctor introduces a gastroscope into the mouth - a thin tube equipped with a light source and a camera, so that the doctor can examine the recorded image on the screen during the examination. Later in the procedure, the endoscope is inserted into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine).

Is a gastroscopy painful?

The examination itself is not painful but the moment when the device enters the esophagus can be unpleasant. In addition to this, retching and belching may occur. The patient may also experience discomfort associated with endoscope movements. It is possible to perform the procedure under sedation or general anesthesia, an anesthesiologist would be required for this form of anesthesia.

Indications for gastroscopy:

Contraindications to gastroscopy:



How can you prepare for a gastroscopy?

Do not eat anything 6-8 hours before a gastroscopy procedure, the last drink can be taken 4 hours before the procedure, in addition, do not smoke cigarettes or chew gum before this test. In preparation for a gastroscopy, a patient should remove movable prostheses, piercings, etc. from the mouth. After the procedure, it is not recommended for a patient to eat or drink anything for another 2 hours (risk of aspiration due to local anesthesia). People with illnesses that require regular medication (e.g. hypertension, heart disease, epilepsy and others) should take the morning dose of the drug with a small amount of water on the day of the study. Patients who use drugs that reduce blood clotting should consult a doctor before the examination to assess the need for discontinuation or substitution.

Complications after a gastroscopy

Gastroscopy as a method of invasive diagnostics is at risk of complications, both during and after its completion. The most common are complications associated with anesthesia (i.e. puncture hematoma, phlebitis, occurrence of adverse drug reactions, e.g. respiratory depression, hypotension, tachycardia, arrhythmias). In addition, there is a risk of the transmission of an infection through insufficiently disinfected equipment (mainly hepatitis B and C). Another complication may be mucosal damage or even gastrointestinal perforation, but this is extremely rare. After the examination, the patient may have a sore throat.


If any of the following occur soon after a gastroscopy

you should contact your doctor immediately.

This article was translated from Polish to English, the references below are those used in the Polish article.

  1. Interna Szczeklika 2018 Podręcznik Chorób Wewnętrznych, Autorzy: Piotr Gajewski, Andrzej Szczeklik Wydawnictwo: Medycyna Praktyczna
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