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Gastroscopy, sometimes also called Oesophago-Gastro-Duodenoscopy (OGD), is a procedure where a flexible tube about the size of the little finger is used to examine the upper part of our digestive tract.

It is performed by an endoscopist, who is a doctor with special training in endoscopy.

This flexible tube, called the gastroscope, has a tiny video camera and a light source at its end. The high-quality and magnified image from the gastroscope is transmitted to a monitor so that the doctor can see even small changes in the lining.


The upper part of your digestive tract includes the oesophagus (also called the gullet), the stomach and the duodenum (which is the first section of the small intestine).

1.    Diagnostic function of the gastroscope
The gastroscope is used to obtain a diagnosis for the following reasons:

  • dyspepsia or unexplained upper abdominal discomfort
  • heartburn or reflux symptoms
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unexplained bloating
  • dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing
  • anaemia or low red blood cell count
  • check healing of previously found ulcers
  • follow up on previously found polyps
  • screening for stomach cancer
  • abnormalities found on a X-ray or CT scan

2.    Therapeutic function of the gastroscope
The gastroscope can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • remove foreign body that has been accidentally swallowed e.g. fishbone
  • stop bleeding from ulcers or tumours
  • ligate oesophageal varices
  • cut out small tumours like polyps or small tumours
  • treat or dilate strictures, which are narrowed areas in the intestine

The Gastroscopy procedure

Your doctor will first take an informed consent during which he will describe the procedure, the benefits as well as the risks involved, as well as alternative methods to evaluate the upper digestive tract.

This excellent 3D medical animation produced by Nucleus Medical Media demonstrates what a gastroscopy entails.
An actual gastroscopy performed on one of our patients

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for up to six hours before the gastroscopy. It is important for your stomach to be empty as otherwise the food will block the view. This will also decrease the chance of food or fluid being vomited into the lungs while under sedation (called aspiration).

At Nexus Surgical Digestive Disease Centre, we would usually sedate our patients for the gastroscopy. This is more comfortable for the patient. However, it is essential for you to arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you home. Although you will be awake by the time of discharge, the sedatives may have a lingering mild drowsiness effect. In addition, your ability to make decisions may be impaired, similar to the effect of alcohol.

  • You will be told where and what time to report to the Endoscopy Centre.
  • At the Endoscopy Centre, the nurse will serve you a sweet tasting syrup to rid your stomach lining of small bubbles and hence improve the visualization.
  • The nurse will then spray a medication to the back of your throat to numb it.
  • An intravenous cannula will be placed into your hand so as to allow us to administer the sedatives.
  • Your parameters (blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen level) will be monitored before, during and after the procedure.
  • Oxygen may be given by way of a plastic tube.
  • Finally a plastic mouth guard will be placed between the teeth to prevent damage to your teeth and the scope.
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side.
  • Once you are fully sedated, your doctor will gently pass the scope into your mouth.
  • As the scope is advanced, air will be introduced so as to allow the doctor to see better. You may therefore experience bloating and the urge to belch. Otherwise you should feel little or no pain.
  • The endoscope contains channels that allow the endoscopist to obtain biopsies (small pieces of tissue) or perform other treatments (such as removal of polyps) depending on what is found during the examination.
  • The time needed for an OGD will vary, depending in part on what is found and what is done; on average, the procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

Gastroscopy is usually performed as a Day Surgery procedure.

After the procedure, you will be cared for in a recovery area for about 1 to 2 hours. When you are fully awake, light refreshments will be served.

When you are fully awake, your doctor will discuss with you the findings of the colonoscopy. This may be done in the Endoscopy Centre or in our Nexus clinic. Otherwise, an early date will be given for you to return for a consult with your doctor.

It is essential for you to arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you home. Although you will be awake by the time of discharge, the sedatives may have a lingering effect. In addition, your ability to make decisions may be impaired.

The most common discomfort is a feeling of bloating. This usually resolves quickly within 24 hours. Some patients may complain of mild sorethorat.

Although gastroscopy is a safe procedure, complications can occur. The overall complication rate is about 1 in 1000 patients, and includes bleeding and injury to the intestine caused by the gastroscope.

The alternative is an X-ray study called a barium meal.

The answer is yes. This allows patients to have both their upper and lower intestines evaluated on the same day. The risks of these procedures are not increased just because they are done on the same day. Both can be safely done on the same day.

The bill for a colonoscopy is divided into 2 components: the doctor’s fees and the hospital fees.

The hospital fees refer to charges levied by the hospital for the use of the instruments as well as the ward / bed.

The doctor’s fees for a diagnostic gastroscopy performed during office hours by Nexus Surgical Associates doctors will be approximately S$400 to S$500 (excluding taxes).

For Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, Medisave may be used to pay part or all of the bill (conditions apply).

As for patients wishing to claim from their health insurance policies, it is best to enquire with your insurance agents first.


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