This week I had my gastroscopy to help determine the extent that coeliac disease has affected me. However the procedure can be used to investigate other problems such as stomach ulcers, diagnose other conditions, or treat tumours or blockages.
The process is carried out to view the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.
As my examination was for coeliac the main focus was on my duodenum and biopsies were also taken. This is carried out using a gastroscope which is a long flexible tube which is placed at the back of the mouth and the first part of the tube has to be swallowed. Then the rest of the tube is guided down. Local anaesthetic throat spray is used to reduce the gag reflex, but I also had a sedation which did not make me lose consciousness but simply made me more relaxed. It was quite painful and uncomfortable, but I do not remember much of what happened especially as it only lasted around 5-10 minutes.
Although the results of my biopsies will not come for a month I was given the pictures that were taken (see figure 2). The diagnosis on my report states that my oesophagus and stomach are normal and that my duodenum has partial scalloping which is one of the first phases of coeliac. The results are normally classified on a scale called Marsh classification. This ranges from Marsh 0 where the lining of the intestine is normal, to March 4 where the villi of the small intestine are completely flattened.
The majority of people with coeliac disease are examined by a gastroscopy; the alternatives such as a barium swallow have a disadvantage as samples of tissue cannot be taken if an abnormality is found. Fortunately the procedure was completed successfully, serious problems are rare but possible complications include internal bleeding. Hopefully a proper diagnosis of what is abnormal will be confirmed soon with the results of this test.
For more information on having a gastroscopy to diagnosis coeliac disease go to: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/coeliac-disease/getting-diagnosed/gut-biopsy/ .