Endoscopy is the cornerstone of the diagnosis and treatment of acute conditions in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. The need for 24-hour availability of gastroscopy for these conditions has not previously been assessed.
We assessed the need for emergency gastroscopy in cases of acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding and obstruction by foreign bodies. The assessment was made by a gastroenterologist before gastroscopy was performed, and was based on the available clinical data for the period lasting from admission to hospital to the time of examination.
A total of 162 patients were referred and examined. About half of them arrived at the hospital outside working hours. Of these, 47% were assessed as being in need of emergency gastroscopy. We therefore found that emergency gastroscopy outside working hours was needed twice a month per 100,000 people.
Round-the-clock endoscopy should be available at acute-care hospitals in the same way as other emergency help.