A gastric endoscopy is an examination of the esophagus, stomach, and upper duodenum with the assistance of an endoscope, a camera mounted on a long tube so the doctor can insert it into the patient. This procedure provides a doctor with a detailed view of the patient's anatomy, and the doctor can take samples for biopsy if she identities anything unusual. Also known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, a gastric endoscopy usually takes places in a hospital or clinic with the facilities for endoscopies.
A doctor can order this test if there are concerns about a patient's health and the doctor wants a closer view of the situation to learn more. Patients who experience symptoms like difficulty swallowing, stomach pain, or severe heart burn may be candidates for a gastric endoscopy. The doctor looks for issues like lesions in the stomach or esophagus that might be indicative of infection or irritation, and can take samples of the tissue to learn more about what is going on.
The patient receives pain management and sedation for this procedure, because it can be uncomfortable. After the procedure, patients can feel some soreness and may need to eat soft foods for several days to allow time to heal. The doctor may have some results immediately, such as a discussion about abnormalities that could be seen during the test. For others, the doctor needs to wait on the results of a biopsy.
If a doctor identifies a problem during a gastric endoscopy, he may propose some treatment options for the patient, such as taking medication to address a stomach ulcer or suppress severe heart burn. The doctor may also request some additional tests to collect more information. Sometimes the results of the test are normal, and the doctor needs more testing to get to the bottom of a patient's health problem. Doctors want to avoid putting patients on unnecessary or dangerous medications, and they do not want to rush to diagnoses only to find out that they are incorrect.
When a doctor recommends a gastric endoscopy, the patient can ask why the doctor thinks the test is advisable, and what will happen during the test. Patients may find it helpful to ask about alternatives and to discuss recovery time ahead of the test so they know what to expect after the procedure is over. Doctors may be reluctant to speculate about what might be happening inside a patient and may provide general information about what they are testing for without specifically suggesting that a particular issue is likely to be the problem.