How painful is a gastroscopy, and what kind of sedation is used during the procedure?

Doctor's Answers (2)

Thanks for the D2D. Gastroscopy is usually performed under moderate or ‘conscious’ sedation. This is a state where patient is ‘put to sleep’ or sedated, but can be respond purposefully when called or touched. The medication is given through an intravenous line, and I adjust the dose accordingly to achieve the desired state of sedation.

This way, I ensure that just enough sedation is given, and I avoid the side effects and complications of the medication. Most of my gastroscopy procedures are completed within 15 minutes, so the total dose of medication I give is low. Hence, the sedation is safe and wears off quickly, allowing patients to return to normal activities quickly. 

With effective sedation, gastroscopy is a painless procedure. Patients are comfortable throughout the procedure, and the gag reflux is usually not elicited.

After the gastroscopy, 20-40% of patients may complain of minor symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, nausea, headache and sore throat. These usually resolve the next day.

Less than 10% of patients complain of such symptoms, and mostly after complex or advanced procedures. Over 95% of my patients are fully awake and back to normal activities within the hour.

Dr Quan Wai Leong

"A specialist in Digestive Health and Advanced Endoscopy"

Contrary to rumours you hear, gastroscopy is not really painful. In fact, most patients do not recall the procedure at all thanks to the sedation given to them. 

The sedation is usually given through a small plastic cannula inserted into the back of your hand just before the procedure. there is also a spay treatment given to numb your throat before the procedure. 

Gastroscopy takes approx 15 minutes to complete and your doctor will be able to explain to you the findings at the end of the procedure. At times, tissue samples may be taken for inspection under the microscope. 

Before you undergo a gastroscopy procedure, make sure you understand the reason for doing the procedure, the risks and benefits the procedure will provide you. Do inform your digestive specialist your medical history and medicine you are taking to ensure you have a safe and fruitful procedure. 

  • Dr Quan

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