23 Mar
2009

Gastroscopy is similar to colonoscopy, and the instrument is also a flexible fiber-optic device. It is passed through the mouth into the esophagus and stomach. The physician may be able to determine the cause of bleeding from the upper intestine or discover an obstruction to the passage of food. If something abnormal appears on a barium swallow X-ray, the gastroscopy may allow a specific diagnosis to be made without the need for abdominal surgery.

This procedure is done in the fasting state. Usually, the mouth and the back of the throat are treated with a local anesthetic. Many physicians use small doses of tranquilizers to make you feel less tense during the examination. This test should not be omitted on the basis of age alone. It can be done even on the very ill, and it may make the difference between an accurate and a “presumptive” diagnosis.

A full investigation of the gastrointestinal tract may include a rectal examination followed by a sigmoidoscopy and perhaps barium enema and barium swallow X-rays. Colonoscopy and gastroscopy may be required if the diagnosis is elusive. A set of gallbladder X-rays or echograms may confirm that symptoms are not arising in the biliary system rather than from the intestines.

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