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OGD / Gastroscopy Screening In Singapore: Procedure & Prices/Costs

Introduction

When you’re experiencing persistent upper abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss, getting a gastroscopy screening in Singapore might be necessary to diagnose your stomach problems.

Gastroscopy, or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or upper GI endoscopy, is a widely-used diagnostic procedure to examine the gastrointestinal tract’s (GI) upper part. It is a common yet highly technical process that requires the doctor to insert a flexible tube called an endoscope into the patient’s upper digestive tract.

However, the procedure, fees, costs or prices for a gastroscopy screening in Singapore may vary depending on different factors. Here is a detailed guide to help you understand these costs and navigate the procedure of getting an OGD/gastroscopy.

We’ll discuss the gastroscopy procedure, its applications, and how to prepare for it.

What Can A Gastroscopy Detect?

A gastroscopy, also known as an upper endoscopy or Oesophago Gastro Duodenoscopy (OGD) can detect various issues within the upper GI tract, including the stomach, oesophagus (food pipe) and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

It allows a surgeon to visualise the mucosal lining of these structures and is invaluable in detection, management, and diagnosis of several medical conditions

Here are some of the common medical conditions that can be diagnosed through a gastroscopy procedure in Singapore:

Gastritis

Gastritis is a stomach inflammation caused by various factors. OGD/gastroscopy allows for direct visualisation of the stomach lining.

The doctor can identify signs of inflammation or irritation like redness, swelling, or erosions during the procedure. In some cases, they may also observe changes in the stomach’s mucosal pattern or the presence of ulcers.

Apart from visual cues, the flexibility of the endoscope allows the physician to maneuver it, ensuring they comprehensively examine the stomach, from the fundus (upper part) to the antrum (lower part). This is crucial, as gastritis is often localised, or affects only specific areas.

Gastric Cancer

Gastroscopy is vital in diagnosing gastric cancer in its early stages, as it allows doctors to inspect the stomach wall and obtain tissue samples for biopsy. 

Detection of gastric cancer early can significantly improve a patient’s prognosis. Often, the initial changes in the stomach mucosa due to malignancy might be subtle, manifesting as minute irregularities, slight discolorations, or tiny nodules.

A gastroscopy’s detailed visual examination ensures that even these minor alterations, which might be indicative of early-stage cancer or precancerous lesions, are not overlooked.

Obtaining tissue samples, or biopsies, during the gastroscopy is equally important. While visual inspection can raise suspicions of cancer, it is the histopathological examination of the biopsy that confirms the diagnosis. The tissue sample allows pathologists to identify the type and grade of the cancer cells, helping to guide subsequent treatment options. Regular gastroscopy screenings are recommended, as gastric cancer often develops from precancerous changes in the stomach lining.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroscopy helps determine the extent of damage caused by stomach acid reflux, a key contributor to GERD. 

GERD is a common condition wherein the stomach acid often regurgitates or flows back into the oesophagus. This causes irritation and inflammation.

Undergoing a gastroscopy screening in Singapore is pivotal in assessing the severity of GERD. Your doctor will be able to identify telltale signs of this condition, such as reddening, erosions, and ulcerations due to the corrosiveness of the stomach acid.

Peptic Ulcers

These painful sores can develop in the stomach or small intestine or small intestine because of too much stomach acid production or bacterial infection. OGD/gastroscopy is crucial in identifying their presence and severity.

Peptic ulcers can lead to significant discomfort and complications if left untreated. They often result from a bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter pylori, which weakens the protective mucous lining of the stomach, or from prolonged use of certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

During a gastroscopy, doctors can directly observe the size, shape, and location of these ulcers, and assess any associated inflammation or bleeding.

Strictures Or Narrowing Of The Food Pipe

Gastroscopy can detect strictures, which may cause difficulty swallowing, and help identify the underlying cause.

Strictures in the oesophagus (food pipe) are often due to chronic inflammation, previous surgical medical interventions, or even benign/malignant growths. Their presence can negatively impact food passage, leading to discomfort, regurgitation, or pain.

During the procedure, the endoscope provides a detailed view of the narrowed section’s length and severity. Additionally, any visible anomalies, like scars or tumours contributing to the stricture, can be thoroughly assessed.

Inflammation Or Swelling In The Upper GI Tract

Gastroscopy effectively diagnoses conditions like esophagitis, gastritis, and duodenitis, which involve inflammation of the oesophagus, stomach, or duodenum, respectively.

Esophagitis, inflammation of the oesophagus, often presents with symptoms like heartburn and painful swallowing. During a gastroscopy screening in Singapore, the doctor can easily visualise characteristic signs of this condition, like a reddened mucosa or small erosions. It allows them to tell apart acute and chronic forms of inflammation.

What Is The Cost Of A Gastroscopy In Singapore?

The cost of a gastroscopy in Singapore varies, predominantly depending on the surgical clinic or medical institution where the procedure is performed. On average, the gastroscopy cost in Singapore ranges from $150 to $2,500 (SGD). This estimated cost typically covers the consultation fee, endoscope usage, sedation, and recovery room charges.

However, it’s crucial to remember that other fees may apply. Additional costs may be necessary if your doctor finds abnormal findings during the examination. For instance, if biopsies are required for tissue samples, polyp removal or other interventions are required, these will likely incur additional costs.

What You Can Do To Lower The Cost Of A Gastroscopy/OGD In Singapore

Insurance Provider And Cashless Eligibility

In Singapore, many insurance providers offer coverage for gastroscopy procedures. This can be part of a comprehensive health insurance plan or an additional coverage option.

Before scheduling your gastroscopy screening you must check your insurance details thoroughly. This includes verifying the coverage details and confirming your cashless eligibility.

Cashless eligibility is a service where patients undergo the gastroscopy procedure without making any upfront payments. Instead, the insurance provider directly settles the bill with the medical institution.

This service can significantly reduce the financial burden for patients, making the process hassle-free and more manageable.

Avail Of The Integrated Shield Plan

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) encourages residents to have an Integrated Shield Plan (IP). This plan is an additional private insurance that complements the basic MediShield Life coverage, ensuring more extensive protection. IPs often cover the cost of a gastroscopy procedure, apart from other selected inpatient and outpatient treatments.

What To Expect During A Gastroscopy Procedure In Singapore?

Gastroscopy is typically performed as a day surgery procedure. This means the patient can leave the clinic or hospital on same day. The process involves several steps to ensure patient comfort and accurate diagnosis.

Here’s what to expect during a gastroscopy procedure:

Step 1: Consultation

Before the gastroscopy, the doctor will review the patient’s medical history, discuss any ongoing medical conditions, and address any concerns, questions, or clarifications the patient might have. This is also the time to inform the doctor about any allergies or medications the patient is taking.

Step 2: Sedation and Anaesthesia

To ensure the patient does not feel discomfort during the procedure, a sedative is usually administered intravenously to help them relax. Some patients may also receive a local anaesthetic spray to numb the throat, minimising the gag reflex and making it easier to insert the endoscope.

Patients may feel drowsy or have difficulty breathing due to the sedation, but this is generally well-controlled by the medical staff.

The sedation will wear off gradually after the procedure, but patients should still avoid operating heavy machinery or making important decisions for at least 24 hours.

Step 3: Insertion Of The Endoscope

To ensure the patient does not feel discomfort during the procedure, a sedative is usually administered intravenously to help them relax. Some patients may also receive a local anaesthetic spray to numb the throat, minimising the gag reflex and making it easier to insert the endoscope.

Patients may feel drowsy or have difficulty breathing due to the sedation, but this is generally well-controlled by the medical staff.

The sedation will wear off gradually after the procedure, but patients should still avoid operating heavy machinery or making important decisions for at least 24 hours.

Step 4: Inspection And Tissue Samples

The endoscope transmits real-time images to a monitor, allowing the doctor to closely inspect the oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

The doctor will look for abnormalities like inflammation, ulcers, or strictures. The doctor may take tissue samples using small instruments passed through the endoscope for further analysis if needed. These samples can help diagnose gastritis, celiac disease, or gastric cancer.

Step 5: Additional Procedures

Sometimes, the doctor may perform additional procedures during the gastroscopy to address specific issues. This can include removing polyps, dilating strictures, treating bleeding ulcers, or placing stents to open a narrowed area.

Step 6: Removal Of The Endoscope

Once the examination is complete, the doctor will carefully remove the endoscope, ensuring the patient’s comfort throughout the process.

Step 7: Recovery

After the procedure, patients are monitored in a recovery area until the sedative wears off. Depending on the patient’s reaction to the sedative, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

They may experience a mild sore throat or bloating, which typically subsides within a few hours.

Having someone accompany the patient to drive them home is essential, as they may still feel tired from the sedative.

Step 8: Post-Procedure Care And Follow-Up

The doctor will discuss the results of the gastroscopy with the patient and provide any necessary recommendations for further tests, treatment, or lifestyle changes.

Patients may experience some mild discomfort like sore throat or bloating, but these usually resolve on their own after a few hours or a day.

If the doctor took tissue samples, the results may take a few days to be processed, and the doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the findings.

How To Prepare For A Gastroscopy Procedure

Proper preparation is essential for a successful gastroscopy. Here’s how patients can get ready for the procedure:

Fasting

To ensure a successful gastroscopy, patients must have an empty stomach. This allows the doctor to have a clear view of the upper GI tract and minimises the risk of complications, such as aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs.

Patients should follow a low-residue diet or refrain from eating or drinking for at least 6-8 hours before the procedure. This means no solid foods, liquids, or even gum.

Water may be allowed in small amounts up to two hours before the procedure, but patients should follow their doctor’s instructions.

Adjust Your Medication

Patients should provide their doctor with a complete list of medications they are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

Some medications, such as blood thinners or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may need to be adjusted or stopped temporarily before the gastroscopy.

This is because they can increase the risk of bleeding, especially if the doctor needs to take a biopsy or perform a therapeutic intervention during the procedure.

Patients should follow their doctor’s instructions regarding medication adjustments.

Don’t Engage In Strenuous Activities

On the day of the gastroscopy, patients should avoid engaging in strenuous activities or anything that may cause discomfort or stress.

They should arrange for a close friend or family member to accompany them to the procedure and drive them home afterwards, as they may feel tired and unable to drive safely due to the sedation administered during the procedure.

Is Getting A Gastroscopy In Singapore Safe?

Gastroscopy is typically a very safe procedure and is valuable in diagnosing gastrointestinal issues like stomach ulcers, inflammation, or tumours. 

However, as with any medical procedure, there is a small risk of complications, such as bleeding, infection, or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Patients should be aware of these risks and discuss them with their doctor to make an informed decision about undergoing the procedure.

Consult With Dr Leong On Gastroscopy Screenings And Costs/Prices In Singapore

Frequently Asked Questions About Gastroscopy Screenings & Costs/Prices In Singapore

No, gastroscopy is generally not painful, as patients are typically sedated or given local anaesthesia to minimise discomfort during the procedure. They may feel a slight gagging sensation or pressure when the endoscope is inserted, but the sedation helps to keep them relaxed.

Endoscopy is a broad term to describe a range of procedures that involve inserting a flexible tube that is attached with lighting and camera attachments into the body to examine internal organs. Gastroscopy is a type of endoscopy specifically focused on examining the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Side effects of gastroscopy are generally mild and temporary. These may include a sore throat, bloating, or mild abdominal discomfort. More serious complications, such as bleeding, infection, or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, are rare but can occur.
Preliminary gastroscopy results are often available immediately after the procedure, as the doctor can observe the upper gastrointestinal tract directly during the examination. However, if a biopsy is taken, it may take several days to a week for the results to be analysed and returned.
Patients should avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy or acidic foods until they have fully recovered and feel comfortable eating them.

Gastroscopy is used to examine the upper GI tract, including:

  • Oesophagus
  • Stomach
  • Duodenum (first part of the small intestine)

A gastroscopy examines the upper gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum), while a colonoscopy focuses on the lower gastrointestinal tract, specifically the colon and rectum. Both procedures involve inserting a flexible tube with a light and camera into the body, but the gastroscopy uses the mouth as the entry point, while the colonoscopy uses the rectum.

Yes. For Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, they can opt to pay for their gastroscopy procedure via Medisave. Personal insurance can also shoulder the costs. Before getting insurance, enquire with the provider on whether or not the plan covers in-patient/out-patient gastroscopy in your preferred hospital.