BACKGROUND: Before endoscopy patients undergo an uncomfortable fluid fast to reduce the risk of gastric acid aspiration and to ensure good endoscopic views are obtained. However, fluids rapidly leave the stomach and thus a long fluid fast before endoscopy may not be required. AIMS: The object of this study was to establish whether drinking before endoscopy is safe and relieves patients' symptoms of thirst. PATIENTS AND METHODS: 88 patients with American Society of Anaesthesiologists classification of physical status grades I and II were recruited in a controlled randomised single blind trial. The volume and pH of gastric aspirate obtained at gastroscopy was assessed in patients who drank 330 ml of water a minimum 90 minutes before their endoscopy and compared with values in patients who starved overnight. RESULTS: 44 patients who drank ('drinkers') 330 ml of water a mean 117 minutes before their morning gastroscopy had a similar volume and pH of gastric aspirate compared with 44 patients starved overnight ('starvers'); median volume 12.5 ml versus 10 ml, median pH 2.0 versus 2.0; 'drinkers' versus 'starvers' (NS). Before endoscopy patients were asked to score their thirst and hunger ratings as either none, mild, moderate or severe. Ratings for moderate and severe thirst were grouped together for analysis. The percentage of drinkers compared with starvers in each group with no thirst, mild thirst, and moderate severe thirst was 63%, 46%, and 37% respectively (chi 2 test for trend p < 0.05). Hunger ratings were similar in the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: It is safe for elective day cases to drink a significant volume of water two hours before endoscopy and this alleviates symptoms of thirst.
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