An endoscope is a thin tube-like instrument fitted with a camera at the end. An endoscopy is used to diagnose and treat conditions of the internal gastrointestinal tract. When an endoscopy is done through the mouth to view the internal state of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum, it is called a gastroscopy.
Why might a gastroscopy be needed?
An upper endoscopy or gastroscopy may be done for diagnostic, therapeutic and interventional reasons. For those suffering from symptoms of a gastrointestinal condition such as difficulties with swallowing, nausea, frequent vomiting, persistent stomach ache, stomach ulcers or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a gastroscopy may be done to diagnose these conditions. In cases where bleeding ulcers, a narrow oesophagus, non-cancerous growths (polyps) or small cancerous tumours are found in the upper gastrointestinal tract, a gastroscopy may be used to treat these conditions using small endoscopic tools.
Dr Mokhele understands that for many, a gastroscopy provides patients with the hope that an underlying condition causing their symptoms may be found and treated. His goals as a gastroenterologist are to help alleviate the symptoms and address the cause of a variety of complex gastrointestinal conditions.
What does gastroscopy involve?
Before an upper endoscopy is done, your gastroenterologist will ask that your stomach and bowels be empty for the procedure. For this Dr Mokhele will instruct you to stop eating 6 hours before your gastroscopy. It is important to inform your doctor about your medical illnesses, that you are using thinning blood medication or you have electronic devices in your body e.g. pacemaker. The entire procedure should only last between 5 and 20 minutes.
These procedures are usually done in a theatre or day theatre on an outpatient basis which means that you won't need to go under general anaesthetic. Before the endoscope is inserted, you will be given an anaesthetic throat spray which will numb your throat and intravenous sedation. The procedure won't be painful but may be a bit uncomfortable. Once the thin endoscope is inserted into the throat, you will be asked to swallow it to allow it to move through the oesophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. Now, since the endoscope is fitted with a camera, your gastroenterologist may be able to see the internal state of the organs and diagnose your condition. Once in the oesophagus, gentle air pressure may be pumped to inflate the digestive tract and get better visuals of the lining and surrounding tissues. If narrowed areas are found, these may be treated by inserting a dilator into the endoscope and stretching the organ. If needed, tiny tools may be passed through the endoscope to perform clipping or removal of the obstruction.
After the procedure, if you have had a sedative, you will need someone to drive you, and you will have to wait for it to wear off before you can go home. Otherwise, you can go home directly after the procedure. You may experience a mild sore throat, bloating, gas and cramping after a gastroscopy.
Gastrocure, Eastern Cape
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