Medical Q&As

Gastroscopy -terrified about the procedure?

I have to go into hospital for a gastroscopy later this month. I am terrified about this. I have read that it is a terrible procedure and I am very anxious. Can you tell me do you have to be awake for it, and what happens during it?

Gastroscopy is one of the great technological advances of recent years because it permits a very thorough examination of the gullet, stomach and duodenum. It enables the examining doctor to look at the wall of the upper gastrointestinal tract and take tissue and fluid samples under direct vision through the scope. It also has the great advantage that it does not require hospital admission and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. The person undergoing the examination is sedated by injection and the back of the throat is sprayed with a local anaesthetic spray in order to prevent gagging as the tube is passed down the throat. The gastroscope has a camera at one end that enables the doctor to look into the stomach and the other end of the tube can be moved remotely in order to inspect particular areas of interest. For example if an ulcer is present the doctor can have a good look around the ulcer and surrounding tissues and can then take a biopsy through the scope, which is a painless procedure. If you are extremely terrified at the prospect of undergoing this examination you should make your doctor aware of that fact and arrangements can be made to put you asleep for the examination subject to the proviso that you are fit for a general anaesthetic. However, that would require a longer stay in hospital because of having had a general anaesthetic. It should be emphasised that most people are able to tolerate the procedure very well under sedation. Sedation means that you are relaxed and sleepy without being fully asleep.