Medical Q&As

Stomach tests - what's involved?

I would like to know how stomach tests are carried out?

The term stomach means different things to different people. Some use the term when discussing the belly or abdomen whereas others use the term when speaking about the first portion of the gut immediately following the oesophagus or gullet. I propose to answer the question in relation to the latter understanding of the term. The most relevant tests for investigating the health of the stomach are X ray imaging and endoscopy. The stomach does not show up on a standard X ray examination therefore it is necessary for the person being examined to swallow a special dye that outlines the shape of the stomach. A white liquid containing barium outlines the shape of the stomach and careful examination of the X ray picture allows the doctor to detect ulcers and other abnormalities within the stomach. This technique is not obsolete but it has been largely superseded by endoscopy, which allows the doctor to examine the interior of the stomach directly with the aid of an endoscope. An endoscope is like a flexible telescope that is passed down the personís throat and into the stomach. The procedure is usually performed under sedation but can be done under a general anaesthetic in those who are unable to comply with the procedure under sedation. Apart from viewing the inside of the stomach it allows the doctor to extract samples of liquid from the stomach or even take a biopsy with the aid of instruments that are passed down through the endoscope. It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and the person is usually fit to leave the hospital within a few hours of the examination being performed.