When your doctor suspects problems with your digestive tract, they may recommend a gastroscopy, colonoscopy or both as a combined procedure. A gastroscopy, also known as an upper GI endoscopy, refers to a procedure where the doctor uses a gastroscope to look inside the gullet, stomach and upper bowel.
A colonoscopy, on the other hand, is a procedure where the doctor uses a colonoscope to look at the inner lining of the large bowel, which includes the rectum and colon.
What happens during a Gastroscopy?
The doctor will numb the back of your throat by spraying it with local anaesthetic, and may also administer a sedative for relaxation. You may be asked to bite on a plastic mouth-guard to protect your teeth during the procedure.
The endoscope will then be inserted into your throat, down to the stomach and duodenum. The doctor may also need to inflate your stomach to provide a more visibly working space. A video camera attached to the endoscope sends pictures to a screen.
If the gastroscopy if for diagnostic purposes, the doctor may take samples known as biopsies, and send them to a lab for further testing.
When used for treatment, a thin instrument called a probe may be passed through the gastroscope to help with administering suitable treatment.
The procedure will take about 10-15 minutes, and it is relatively painless with mild discomfort. Throughout the procedure, the doctor will monitor your breathing, pulse and blood pressure.
What happens during a Colonoscopy?
The doctor may start this procedure by offering a sedative for relaxation. A colonoscope is passed through the anus, into the colon. The lining of the colon is examined on a video monitor. If necessary, some air is used to inflate your bowel to get a clear view. The air might cause a mild discomfort or a feeling like you need to pass wind, which is normal and expected. If needed, biopsies may be taken for further tests.
While performing the scan, doctors may remove any growths or polyps, and send them to the lab for testing. If the polyps are too large, the doctor may arrange a separate appointment for the removal of polyps. Colonoscopy will take about 15-30 minutes, and it is also relatively painless.
After both tests, the doctor will want to discuss your results and the next course of action. When going for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, you should expect to be at the hospital for at least three hours for; including preparation, the procedure, the discussion with the doctor, and any necessary recovery time.
How Do You Prepare For A Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy?
First, you would want to arrange for transportation home as you may not be in a condition to drive after the procedure. This is mainly due to the general anaesthesia the doctor may administer at the beginning of the procedure.
Take a low fibre diet starting one to three days before your procedure to allow your digestive tract to empty out. The day before your appointment, you will be given laxatives to remove the stools and make it easy for the bowel to be thoroughly examined. This reduces the risk of small abnormalities being missed. You will also need to fast for four hours before your appointment, so that your stomach is empty; to reduce the risk of choking during the gastroscopy. The doctor may also recommend an enema the night before the procedure, to make sure all remaining material is out of the lower colon to allow a clear view. After the procedure is complete, you will need to stay and rest in the hospital for about two hours.