It’s quite natural to worry about gagging or choking when having a gastroscopy. But try not to worry – local anaesthesia and sedation can help you to relax and prevent this.
You’ll need to swallow the gastroscope to let it move down into your stomach. Your doctor will offer to spray a local anaesthetic on to the back of your throat, to numb the area. This will help to reduce gagging as the gastroscope passes down your throat. But most people do gag a few times.
No one will make you carry on with the gastroscopy if you decide that you want to stop. But try to remember that the whole procedure is over within a few minutes. And your medical team will do all they can to help you through it.
A gastroscopy is usually done to help find out what’s causing your symptoms. But it can also be used to give certain treatments. To do these, your doctor uses specially designed instruments. They pass these down the gastroscope to treat your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum.
Treatments you may have during a gastroscopy include the following.
- Removal of a swallowed object (foreign body) that has become stuck.
- Stopping bleeding, for example from an ulcer. This may be by applying clips or bands or by heat-sealing. Or your doctor may inject a substance that stops the bleeding.
- Stretching narrowed areas of your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum with a small balloon. Your doctor may leave a small tube (stent) in place to keep the stretched area open.
- Removing polyps (small benign growths) or other growths your doctor is concerned about.
If your doctor offers you a treatment during your endoscopy, ask them to explain what’s involved.
Yes, you can have a gastroscopy if you need one. Your doctor will only recommend you have a gastroscopy if there’s a very good reason. This means they think the benefit will outweigh any potential harms to you and your unborn baby.
Doctors aren’t certain yet, but it’s unlikely that having a gastroscopy will harm your unborn baby. But your doctor will take precautions to keep you and the baby safe.
These precautions may include:
- waiting until you’re in your second trimester before doing the endoscopy
- doing the procedure as quickly as possible
- giving you the least amount of sedative possible
- having you lie on your side so the baby doesn’t press on the blood supply to the placenta
- checking your baby’s heart rate
If your doctor recommends you have a gastroscopy, ask them to explain why this is the best option for you. It’s your choice whether or not to go ahead after talking with your doctor.
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