Gastroscopy / gastric examination – Process, benefits and alternatives
Gastroscopy - what is involved?
The gastric examination - also known as the gastroscopy – is a method for examining the upper part of the digestive tract. With the help of an endoscope, a moveable, tube-like instrument with an integrated glass fibre or video lens, the doctor can see inside and assess both the stomach and the oesophagus and duodenum.
Gastroscopy – when?
The gastric examination is certainly one of the most frequently used apparatus-based examination methods for diseases of the digestive organs. It quickly provides information about potential diseases in the upper digestive tract, it is tolerated relatively well by patients and it only poses a very small risk of side-effects. Furthermore, therapeutic interventions are also possible as part of a gastroscopy, i.e. stopping bleeding.
A gastroscopy is typically required for the diagnostic clarification of persistent upper abdominal pain, recurring heartburn or abdominal fullness, reflux (acid reflux) as well as persistent difficulties in swallowing. If there is a suspicion of a stomach ulcer or duodenal ulcer, inflammation of the mucosal lining of the stomach (gastritis) or even a malignant tumour in the upper digestive tract, an examination by means of gastroscope is also advisable. In order to detect or exclude gastric cancer, tissue samples are taken as part of the gastric examination and examined in the laboratory.
Gastritis can be immediately ascertained and the severity can be immediately assessed. Furthermore, it is possible to carry out a rapid test for gastritis-causing bacteria directly in the stomach. Gastric ulcers can not only be detected and assessed with a gastroscopy, but – if they are bleeding – they can also be treated immediately.
Further applications are the removal of polyps (benign mucosal proliferation), the removal of swallowed foreign bodies and the widening of constrictions in the oesophagus or the area of the pyloric orifice. For the latter, an inflatable balloon is pushed through the working channel of the endoscope.
Gastroscopy – how?
A special endoscope, the so-called gastroscope, is used for the gastric examination; a flexible tube which can be controlled and moved by the doctor. Inside, in addition to a working channel and an air/cleaning channel, there is a video lens which transmits images to a monitor.
The instruments are still smaller than a centimetre thin and they can be pushed into the stomach via the mouth and oesophagus without any problems.
During the examination, the patient lies on their left side. The gastroscope is then pushed through the mouth via the oesophagus into the stomach and also the duodenum if a diagnosis is also required there. In order to unfold the mucous membranes and thus for a better assessment, the stomach is inflated with air for a gastroscopy. The doctor then sees the inside of the upper digestive tract, piece by piece, via the integrated lens. If they detect changes, they can take mucous membrane samples with small forceps passed through the working channel, which are then examined in the laboratory.
The duration of a gastric examination is normally only a few minutes. Once it is complete, the doctor slowly pulls the device back and then straight out. The previously injected air is extracted to prevent or reduce excessive belching and bloating.
The method does not cause pain. However, the insertion of the gastroscope can cause an unpleasant gag reflex. Meanwhile, there are also devices which are pushed through the nose, which many patients perceive as more pleasant.
Gastroscopy – are there alternatives?
All in all, the gastroscopy is a very safe procedure, which has long become routine practice in hospitals and doctor's offices. In many cases, there are no alternatives, as the gastric examination is the only method which allows the upper digestive tract to actually be seen from the inside. Furthermore, only the gastric examination allows the taking of mucous membrane tissue samples from suspect areas. In particular, in cases of suspected gastric cancer, stomach ulcer or gastritis, there are actually no alternatives to gastroscopy.
Gastroscopy – why at the Wiener Privatklinik?
The Wiener Privatklinik not only offers you some of Vienna’s best medical specialists, but also specialists and the necessary technical diagnostic equipment for all examinations, which may be required if a disease is suspected as a result of the gastroscopy. It also offers the best specialists for the immediate treatment of such diseases. Early detection and timely treatment at the highest level are the best guarantee for a long, pain-free life.
You can obtain more detailed information on the gastroscopy/gastric examination from our telephone info-line or by email. All contact details can be found on our Contact page.