Gastroscopy: whether dangerous, harmful, alternative

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 17.10.2021

All iLive content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses ([1], [2], etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.

Gastroscopy is a common diagnostic procedure that is used in gastroenterology to diagnose diseases of the upper digestive tract. The essence of the procedure is that the patient swallows a special tube, at the end of which there is an optical system. It provides an opportunity to view the walls of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum and identify possible pathologies. Used for suspected gastritis, peptic ulcer, bleeding. It is the main method of early diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers.

The advantage of this method is that it is possible to examine in detail, from the inside, internal organs, to study their walls and mucous membranes. If you suspect a cancer process, you can take a biopsy for further cytological and histological examination. There is an opportunity to take a scraping from the mucosa to determine the number of bacteria Helicobacter, which are the causative agents of gastritis and ulcer diseases. The procedure from the diagnostic at any time can develop into a curative one. If polyps are found during the procedure, they are removed. Also during the study, you can stop small bleeding, apply ligatures to the dilated veins, vessels.

The disadvantages of the procedure include discomfort during performance, the patient's fear of swallowing the tube. A big problem is the gag reflex that occurs when the tube is swallowed. This is a natural protective reflex, which can not but arise when exposed to the pharynx and root of the tongue. But thanks to the latest achievements of the pharmaceutical science, it became possible to suppress this reflex. During the procedure, the pharynx and the oral cavity are treated with an anesthetic that relieves pain. Also muscle relaxants are used, muscles are relaxed, respectively, the tube freely passes through the esophagus, without encountering resistance. The gag reflex does not arise, either.

There are also other types of procedure. For example, there is a more gentle method - transnasal gastroscopy, in which a tube of the finest size is inserted through the nose into the esophagus and stomach. In this case, pain and vomiting reflex does not arise, the procedure is considered more comfortable.

When capsular gastroscopy, the patient swallows the capsule, squeezes it with water. In this capsule there is a built-in video system and sensor. Such capsule freely moves along the digestive tract, transmits the image of the walls of the internal organs to the computer of the doctor. Then the processing of the received data is carried out using a special program, a preliminary diagnosis is issued. At the end of the working time, the capsule is excreted from the body in a natural way, with calves.

This is the only way with which you can examine all parts of the intestine, including the small intestine. Colonoscopy makes it possible to study the digestive system, beginning with its lower parts, it hardly reaches the large intestine. Traditional gastroscopy makes it possible to examine only the upper sections, in which the gastroscope reaches only the duodenum. The capsule passes through all the departments. The disadvantage of the method is that the doctor can neither slow down, nor accelerate the movement of the capsule, nor can he deploy it, fix it. But scientists are working on this, and soon such capsules will be available, which can be controlled by a doctor from a computer.

Gastroscopy is also performed under anesthesia and in sleep. In the first case, the patient is given anesthesia, in the second case - in a state of medical sleep. The advantage is that the patient sleeps, does not move, his muscles are relaxed, and the doctor can safely perform all the necessary manipulations. The disadvantages are that the patient is not in a conscious state. Usually, the doctor does the procedure, focusing on the patient's current condition, his breathing, reflexes. In the event of an unforeseen situation or worsening of well-being, the patient can give the doctor a pre-determined signal.

Such methods are often used by children, people who are overly afraid of the procedure, people with unbalanced psyche, pregnant women. Medication sleep does not have a negative effect on the body.

Each type of gastroscopy has its advantages and disadvantages, therefore the doctor independently chooses the expediency of carrying out this or that method. In this case, the doctor is based on a set of data. It is also taken into account that gastroscopy has contraindications.

Is gastroscopy dangerous?

Patients who are to undergo the study are often worried and afraid of the consequences. Many are wondering if this procedure is dangerous. It is necessary immediately to calm the patient - the procedure is considered absolutely safe. It is carried out even for pregnant women up to 4-5 months and for small children, which indicates the safety of the method.

Safety in many ways depends on the patient. If the patient does not interfere with the doctor, he will not resist, the procedure will pass quickly, painlessly, without any consequences. We must try to relax as much as possible, not to be nervous, to breathe freely. When providing resistance, you can get mechanical damage to the esophagus, stomach, or vessel. Both during the procedure and in preparation for it, all the recommendations and instructions of the doctor should be followed. If there is an allergic reaction or individual intolerance to medicines, this should be reported to the doctor. This will reduce the risk and prevent the development of a pathological reaction, anaphylactic shock.

With caution, you need to undergo a procedure for those patients who suffer from cardiac and vascular diseases, nervous disorders. The presence of concomitant diseases should also be reported to the doctor in advance. He will assess all the risks, will make a conclusion about the feasibility of such a study.

Who to contact?

Complications after the procedure

After the procedure, you may experience a feeling of numbness, swelling, loss of sensitivity in the throat. This is normal. These are the effects of local anesthesia. The sensations will pass after 1-2 hours. There may also be various unpleasant sensations in the throat, including pain, burning, and perspiration. Usually it passes after 2-3 days on its own, without having to take any action.

There are no more consequences. This is due to the fact that today the technique is more perfect, it makes it possible to carry out the procedure accurately. And usually the consequences that arise are not related to the digestive tract, but are more related to the technique of implementation and application of medicines. 

Long-term practice has proved that gastroscopy is a safe procedure. Complications are rare. A dangerous complication is perforation, which is the perforation of the wall of the internal organ. This situation requires immediate surgical intervention, since there may be severe bleeding and further death. Similar injuries can occur during a biopsy, or removal of polyps. Also, during these manipulations, bleeding often occurs. However, one should not worry, since such pathologies are extremely rare.

Sometimes perforation occurs as a result of inflation of the walls of internal organs with the help of air in the presence of tumors and deep ulcers. Usually complications are divided into 4 groups:

  • mechanical damage (cracks, scratches, injuries, damage to the walls of the organs, malfunction of the mucous membranes);
  • damage to the esophagus and stomach;
  • esophagus rupture
  • perforation of the stomach.

The main reason for such complications is the human factor. Usually complications are the result of rough introduction of the endoscope, inadequate behavior of the patient, disregard for the doctor's recommendations and contraindications.

Infection with gastroscopy

Many patients are concerned with the question of whether it is possible to catch during a gastroscopy. Previously, such a probability was not excluded. But today you can not worry about this at all: there is no risk of infection during the procedure. Today, strict standards and requirements exist in the field of sterilization and disinfection.

All tools are thoroughly processed. First, mechanical cleaning of the endoscope is carried out, then it is soaked in special solutions. For disinfection, use the newest sterilization cabinets and autoclaves, which provide 100% slaughter of any flora. In an autoclave, sterilization occurs under the influence of high temperatures and high humidity under reduced pressure. This provides complete slaughter of all possible forms of life, with the exception of extreme forms (archaeans) that inhabit deep thermal springs and volcanoes. Of course, in the office of a gastroenterologist such forms of life can not be met.

Also there are powerful disinfectants - solutions that provide reliable protection against microorganisms, including from viral, bacterial, fungal and even intracellular parasites.

trusted-source[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

Blood after gastroscopy

After a gastroscopy, blood may appear if the mucous membranes are damaged, when bleeding starts from the ulcer, after taking a biopsy or removing polyps. This phenomenon is extremely rare. Usually, even if there is blood, it stops very quickly without any additional intervention. The risk of bleeding increases with blood diseases, with reduced coagulability, as well as during critical days and with hypertension.

trusted-source[7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]

Pain after gastroscopy

Some patients argue that the procedure is painful, while others are sure that it is not associated with pain. The only thing that converges absolutely everything - the procedure causes discomfort and unpleasant sensations. Spasm, pain and vomiting reflex can be felt when you insert a gastroscopy into the pharynx, at the very beginning of the procedure. The psychological mood is very important. If at this time to relax, calm down, begin to breathe smoothly and calmly, everything will pass safely.

In some patients, pain occurs after the procedure. Your throat may be sore. There may be minor pain in the esophagus and stomach. This is due to the fact that a certain amount of air is introduced into the cavity, which makes it possible to straighten the walls of the esophagus and stomach and better examine the condition of the internal organs. Sometimes the pain occurs after taking a biopsy or removing polyps, if such activities were carried out. Usually, such feelings take place within 2-3 days, no measures need to be taken.

Sore throat after a gastroscopy

After a gastroscopy, some patients may have a sore throat. This may be due to the side effect of the drugs used, with mechanical damage. It can also occur as a result of a throat spasm, due to the patient's excessive nervousness. In mild cases, this pathology passes several days later without the need for additional treatment. In the event that a person has weakened immunity, or there is a source of chronic infection in the body (for example, caries, sinusitis), an infection can join. In this case, an inflammatory and infectious process develops. Often there is tonsillitis.

Harm of gastroscopy

Gastroscopy can only harm those people who resist, are unnecessarily nervous and behave inadequately. In such a situation, the risk of complications and mechanical damage increases sharply. The procedure will also be dangerous if you do not inform the doctor about allergies, intolerance to substances, concomitant diseases, diabetes mellitus, people with blood clotting disorder, hemophilia, especially if polyps need to be removed or biopsies taken. In other cases, the procedure is considered absolutely harmless.

Care after the procedure

Within an hour after the end of the procedure, you should not eat and drink water. If a biopsy was performed, only warm food can be taken within 24 hours. Both hot and cold food can cause complications. Also, the food should be soft, preferably wiped. During the week, you need to adhere to light, dietary nutrition. Food should be only in boiled or steam form, without spices, greasy and fried foods.

trusted-source[14], [15]


Gastroscopy is prescribed to many. Each second patient of a gastroenterologist needs this study. Most often appoint with a diagnostic purpose. Not everyone goes through this research. Many refuse because of fear of getting infected, get complications. Scary and very need to swallow the probe. Many postpone the procedure to the last, resorting to it only in case of emergency. The majority of patients who underwent the procedure, leave negative feedback. Complain about discomfort, pain, vomiting reflex, fear of swallowing the device. At the same time, they note that the procedure passes quickly enough, and negative emotions are quickly forgotten. Nobody wants to undergo the procedure again. There is numbness in the throat and oral cavity under the influence of anesthetics, which somewhat reduces pain and discomfort. Sedatives help to calm down, to be in a state of rest and balance, not to be nervous. After these drugs for a long time, drowsiness, disorientation, decreased attention and reaction rate remain. On the day of the procedure you can not drive and it is better to have an escort who will help you get home.

As for the specialists, they leave only positive feedback. According to gastroenterologists, if possible, they try to assign this study to their patients, as it gives the most accurate picture of the disease, quickly diagnose and choose the right treatment. Plus is that the preliminary diagnosis is put right on time for inspection.

During the study, you can take a biopsy and scraping to determine the content of Helicobacter. With the histological and cytological examination of the biopsy specimen, the presence of a benign or malignant tumor can be reliably determined. If you detect Helicobacter, which is the causative agent of gastritis and ulcers, you can also immediately confirm the diagnosis. Gastroscopy is the only method that makes it possible to identify a tumor at an early stage and even at the stage of its origin and take appropriate measures. Often this method is the only method on the basis of which you can immediately put the exact diagnosis. If information is insufficient, additional research can be conducted.

Also, doctors prefer this method, because it makes it possible during the examination to immediately carry out medical measures: apply ligatures to vessels, remove polyps, and burn areas of possible bleeding.

Many patients, with excessive fear, which does not give the opportunity to conduct a study, spend a gastroscopy in a dream. For this, there are two methods - either under general anesthesia, or in a state of medical sleep. The second option is preferable, because the drugs used are harmless, do not put pressure on the heart, vessels. This procedure is also carried out for people with neuropsychic disorders, and if necessary, to carry out the procedure often. Children under 6 years of age undergo anesthesia.

People speak about this method positively. They do not remember anything. Waking up, they understand that the research has already been carried out. Doctors who conduct research, speak about this method negatively. They say that contact with the patient is important, which makes it possible to monitor his condition and respond in time to possible changes.

As for capsular gastroscopy - this is the most favorite method of patients. It is comfortable, safe, absolutely painless. The patient simply swallows a capsule that travels through the digestive tract and transmits information to the doctor's computer.

But then many patients were disappointed. Many people then have to do traditional gastroscopy, because the picture is incomplete. Either during the procedure there is a suspicion of a ulcer, an oncology. Then you still need to enter a gastroscope to take a biopsy or scraping for further laboratory testing. Doctors consider this method to be the only method that makes it possible to examine the state of the small intestine, since no other instrument can reach this department. Cons, according to experts, is that there is no way to fix the camera, suspend it or turn it. This makes it possible to observe pathology, but it can not always be considered. Therefore, it is often necessary to resort to the traditional method anyway.

Also, many patients believe that the method is very expensive and is not very informative at the same time. Not all cities have such equipment. Basically, only residents of large cities can afford this procedure. Many people say that the procedure is pleasant and painless. Basically, it is resorted to by those who have a sad experience of passing traditional gastroscopy. Represents the picture in a general view and makes it possible to identify only major pathologies, small ones often remain unnoticed. In this case, the probe can not be avoided anyway.

Many patients have difficulty undergoing traditional gastroscopy, even flee without mastering their fear. But the injection of sedatives is salvation, and makes it possible to calmly survive the procedure. Some even lose consciousness when looking at the hose. Sedatives in this case also come to the rescue. Or a gastroscopy is used in a dream. Waking up, the patient simply does not remember anything. Many people after the procedure for a few hours left numbness, and a sore throat.

Alternative gastroscopy of the stomach

Many patients wonder: what to replace the gastroscopy? Often this method causes an insurmountable fear and it is tried in every possible way to avoid. Currently, medicine has a wide variety of diagnostic methods. To study the state of the stomach and esophagus, fractional sounding, X-ray methods, and ultrasound are used.

Various laboratory tests, biopsy, laparoscopy are used. Sometimes there is a need to conduct pH-metry. But for today the most informative and popular method is gastroscopy. Other methods do not give such accurate results and do not have such capabilities as gastroscopy or PEGS. With the help of this method, it is possible to deliver an accurate diagnosis almost immediately, even without additional methods. Other methods are considered auxiliary, or allow to reveal a picture of a pathology from absolutely other foreshortening. 

trusted-source[16], [17], [18], [19]

Gastroscopy or MRI

Gastroscopy and MRI are two completely different methods that are not analogous to each other. They can not be considered interchangeable.

X-ray of the stomach or gastroscopy

Many patients try to avoid gastroscopy and are looking for an alternative. Often when a patient refuses to do research, he must resort to a x-ray of the stomach. But this method is less informative, it does not give the information that can be obtained with gastroscopy. This study is painless, but it is harmful to the body. The contrast agent that a person drinks and the dose of irradiation, even if only insignificant, can not but have negative consequences for the body. Radiation exposure is highly undesirable, especially if a gastroscopy can be performed.

Translation Disclaimer: The original language of this article is Russian. For the convenience of users of the iLive portal who do not speak Russian, this article has been translated into the current language, but has not yet been verified by a native speaker who has the necessary qualifications for this. In this regard, we warn you that the translation of this article may be incorrect, may contain lexical, syntactic and grammatical errors.

You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.