Gastroscopy is performed using a flexible gastroscope which is inserted under sedation. This sedation is provided by an anaesthetist. Gastroscopy allows the surgeon to examine the food tube connecting the mouth to the stomach (oesophagus), the stomach and the first part of the small bowel (i.e. duodenum) to exclude reflux, inflammation (gastritis) and conditions that cause diarrhoea (coeliac disease, lactose intolerance). It can also exclude ulcers, polyps and cancer.
This is a quick, painless and safe procedure with few complications. A rare complication is wheezing or breathing difficulties similar to asthma immediately after the procedure. If this occurs, it can be managed by your anaesthetist.
If you also require a colonoscopy, it will require a bowel preparation to clean the colon. Drinking plenty of fluids the day before colonoscopy is important to prevent dehydration.
Colonoscopy is a short procedure that is extremely safe, however all procedures have some risk. Perforation of the colon is a complication where a hole is made in the bowel. It is rare and occurs in less than 0.2% of cases. The risk of perforation following colonoscopy where a polypectomy is also performed is 0.3-1.0%. If perforation occurs, it usually requires abdominal surgery to close the defect in the bowel wall. Care will be taken to avoid this complication. Occasionally bleeding can occur particularly if a polyp has been removed. The risk of anaesthetic is very much related to your previous medical conditions, and this will be discussed with you by your anaesthetist the day of your procedure.