Gastroscopy without sedation - my experience.

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I went for my first gastroscopy yesterday and want to share my experience and thoughts if it helps someone else. I asked the nurse for a few statistics: what percentage of people opt for no sedation - answer, about 50%, majority men.

I am female, 50, and decided that I would try it without sedation, so that I would know what it was like, and I would be able make a more informed choice if I ever have to have it again.

I was as nervous as anyone else, but I fear the idea of conscious sedation more than I fear discomfort. I have read lots of stuff from the hysterical to the comforting and am glad I did it without sedation, to make my own mind up.

 I am not judging anyone else here, as I am aware that personal circumstances will affect the experience massively. I can imagine if there is any inflammation or damage to the esophagus that it there may be more discomfort than I experienced.

 The throat spray works within a few minutes to make the esophagus, throat and tongue numb. I was worried about this but I needn't have been. I was laid down on my left hand side and the mouthpiece was inserted and secured.  I was told I would feel the scope pass over my tongue and I automatically swallowed as it reached my throat. This bit is very unpleasant as it passes through, but it is momentary. As the scope is pushed down the sensation is uncomfortable, there is a sensation of pressure and movement in the chest. At this point I had my eyes tight shut and wholly concentrated on my breathing to relax. At no point did I gag or feel unable to breathe. I was fine.

I felt it in my stomach, moving about – a bit freaky, but most of the issues were with my mind, not my body. Keep breathing through it.

Then the camera is withdrawn. As it comes up through the throat this is the first and only wretch but it’s done now. A quick clean up, blood pressure check and I am walking out leaving the patients who went in earlier, recovering from their sedation in their beds. All I have is a bit of a tender gullet – it feels like there is a lump in my throat but that’s it.

Honestly, it is not a pleasant experience – but it is easily bearable. The fear is because you know what’s happening. The procedure is uncomfortable, it is not painful and it is very quickly over. If I had to have it again I would do it again with just the throat spray, no sedation.

I hope this is helpful to others. 

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20 Replies

  • Posted

    Extremely helpful - thank you for that.

    Does it not cause any difficulty breathing at all?

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  • Posted

    Thankyou for that SheT I think I will go for just the throat spray, I am expecting to be told I will have an endoscopy 
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    • Posted

      I am glad my tale is of use in helping you make an informed choice. I only had a simple upper gastroscopy that took no more than 5 minutes. Much of the tiny risk associated with the procedure is with the sedation itself and also there is a 24 hour recovery period where you can't drive or be left alone. I decided this was not worth it and for me it was the right decision for me.

      I am sure you will fine with it. Don't worry about it, it's over so quickly. 

      I wish you well smile

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  • Posted

    I'm like you and hate the idea of not knowing what's happening. But to others that's a comfort. I was very fortunate indeed and had no after soreness and the doctor told me that I was his easiest patient that morning ( I was last on the list as most of the others were diabetic and needed their breakfast ) And, really, that was my main discomfort I was VERY thirsty.  and seem to remember being told not to try to drink for an hour because the throat would still be too relaxed to swallow safely. Glad it went well for you.

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    • Posted

      I am glad it went well for you. My post-gastroscopy tenderness really was trivial, just a feeling of a lump in my throat. It was gone within 24 hours, did not require any painkillers nor cause any problems with eating or sleeping. The thirst - yes my first cup of tea an hour after was very welcome!

       

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  • Posted

    I had the sedation and felt nothing.  After it was over, I was very alert.
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    • Posted

      I am glad it went well for you. Your reply reiterates my point that both choices are valid. However if you need to drive, don't have anyone to accompany you or you have go back to work, then my experience should allay fears and allow people to give it a go without.  

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  • Posted

    I am a 71 year old female and have had two endoscopies, one five years ago that took about ten minutes, without sedation and I was complimented on how calm I had been although I had been a nervous wreck before it started!   The second one I had was last Wednesday, again without sedation but this one took longer.  It must be the time when student doctors are honing their skills as I had been told that a student would be there and did I mind, it wasn't explained that it would be them that would be doing the procedure, obviously with a backup team.  This time it took about 30 minutes as my husband who was in the waiting room said I was in there for 40 minutes. Five would have been signing the consent form and the other five sitting and drinking some squash after it.  Why it took so long is that the student was being tutored by a senior endoscopy nurse who was correcting and advising and a doctor stepped in a couple of times when the endoscope wouldn't go round a corner.  The first 20 minutes or so was OK but they could see it was getting uncomfortable so hurried the student along.  I had the printed diagnosis straight after which is good, just gastritis - non erosive and oesophagitis - reflux so just omeprazole when needed.   To anyone waiting for an endoscopy I would say that it's not half as bad as you think it's going to be and if there is any "worst bit" it's the throat spray which is supposed to taste of banana and it does for a few seconds before the nasty taste sets in but it wears off very quickly and soon numbs the throat so you hardly feel the endoscope go down and the best advice I can give is to swallow and you may not even gag, I didn't.

     

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  • Posted

    Hi ya

    Thanks for this post. I am having the same procedure tomorrow and it was comforting to read your experience.

    I have had an endoscopy in my bladder which can't have been worse, and your post has given me confidence.

    I'm more worried about what they might find ....

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  • Posted

    Hello, I had one also, this is nothing, and so quick. I guess it also depends on the doctor, if he is gentle or a dhead.

    The 50kg nurse told me that she did it without sedation, and I am too much a man to be more scare than a little woman, so she convinced me !

    Doctor gave me the choice but said that she preferred without sedation (I guess that any smart doctor would).

    Just sad 😃 that they didn't find anything but gastritis that was already diagnosed, no hpylori also, just too spicy food and lemon in the morning damaged my stomach.

    I did the gastroscopy because I have this gastritis since years and it has still not improved because of my bad eating and drinking habits.

    At least I feel safe now.

    Just do it !

    😃

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  • Posted

    I went for my first gastroscopy this morning. I'm a 71 year old widow and no-one was free to come with me so I decided to try it without sedation. The information from the hospital stated most people could manage without sedation. I was a little anxious but decided to go for it.

    Unfortunately, I found the experience unbearable and had to ask them to stop. No fault of the medical staff, who were lovely, but I couldn't stop gagging and felt as if I couldn't breathe. I had a bit of a blocked nose so couldn't really breathe through my nose. The tube felt enormous and I could feel myself beginning to panic as I was gagging so much but my throat was blocked with the tube.

    I've made an appointment to go back in 3 weeks to have another with sedation, and hopefully my daughter can take a day off work to be with me. I feel a terrible failure but I really couldn't bear it, and I'm even a bit panicky about having it under sedation as I understand some people are still aware of what's happening.

    My throat is pretty sore now as well, which is a double disappointment as I have the after-effects without the advantage of having had the procedure.

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  • Posted

    Their are local and general anesthesia...local anesthesia will only make a part of body to be numb...general anesthesia will be make full body numb...exam like Gastroscopy done without sedation can be done but depends on the patients strength...patient who are too sensitive and scared of even needles...should never follow withou sedation procedrues...exam like gastrostomy and surgery repair sould be always done with sedation to avoid any damage to patient health.

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    • Posted

      I'm not sure it is to do with either strength or being scared. I think some people may be more sensitive to what is being done than others. I've read accounts where patients say it wasn't too bad or they hardly gagged at all but I had extreme discomfort and was gagging continually. My friend told me today that her husband was exactly the same and couldn't have the procedure without sedation. She said she tried to warn me but didn't want to scare me too much,

      I wasn't really scared about having it last time, just a bit apprehensive, but I'm now terrified of having it even with sedation. I think they will really have to knock me out.

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    • Posted

      I think it just depends on how strong is your mind and the idea that you can d it or not. When a young nurse told me that she did it without sedation (true or not I don't know), my male ego could not accept to need a sedation without feeling ashame.

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    • Posted

      I definitely felt a failure at the time for not being able to tolerate it, but I think that's incorrect. Strength of mind may play some part, but I don't think it's the main thing. If you read the reports of people who managed without a sedative, they don't say "It was absolutely terrible, I gagged so much but I steeled myself and made it through the dreadful experience". They generally say that it was not that bad and they didn't gag much.

      Like everything in the human anatomy, the gag reflex is different in different people. Some people will be able to tolerate a big tube being put down their throat without much gagging, while others won't. It's a pity you don't know which you are until you try 😃

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    • Posted

      We certainly are all different and, although I think mind over matter has some relevance in some situations, I don't think it's that simple and I don't think we should feel failures when something is too much for us to tolerate. I've known a couple of what I would regard as courageous people who literally pass out at the sight of blood.... and it doesn't even have to be their own!

      re the gag reflex I wonder whether it's connected to the swallowing mechanism? Some people, and I'm one of them, happily swallow much larger mouthsful than others. I remember being told to "now swallow" and it felt exactly like swallowing a piece of dry bread, needed more push than a mouthful of ice cream but down it went.

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