Private Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver), General Surgery, Respiratory
Gastroscopy is a visual examination of the lining of the upper part of your digestive tract i.e. oesophagus (food pipe), stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). A gastroscope (long, flexible tube with a small camera on the end) is passed through your mouth and down your digestive tract. Images from the camera are displayed on a video screen and photos can be taken. The endoscope (tube) will not interfere with your breathing. The doctor can look for any abnormalities and if necessary take a small tissue sample (biopsy) using tiny biospy forceps. This is painless and the tissue sample is sent to the laboratory for examination under a microscope.
Gastroscopy examination may be used to investigate and diagnose:
- indigestion, heartburn, reflux
- bleeding, anaemia
- swallowing difficulties
- pain and/or abdominal discomfort
- peptic ulcers, tumours, gastritis etc.
Risks + Complications from a Gastroscopy examination are very rare but can occur. They include:
- a tear (perforation) and/or bleeding from the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum may occur, especially after endoscopic therapies such as biopsies and polypectomy or dilatation
- allergic reaction to the sedative or throat spray.
If you would like further clarification of these risks and complications, please discuss them with your specialist or nurse.
What to expect
The stomach must be empty to obtain a clear view. Therefore you are asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the examination.
In addition it is important to inform the Endoscopy Unit prior to your procedure if you have any of the following:
- an allergy or bad reaction to medicines or anaesthetics
- take medication to thin your blood including warfarin, aspirin or arthritis medication
- prolonged bleeding/clotting disorders or excessive bleeding
- heart and lung problems including artificial heart valves
- artificial hip or knee joint replacements
- are pregnant or breast-feeding.
On admission into the Endoscopy Unit your medical history is recorded by a nurse and further information given in the form of a patient video and written material. A consent form is discussed and you are requested to sign it, indicating that you understand the procedure and the risks and complications and give consent to have the procedure performed.
In the examination room the back of your throat will be sprayed with a local anaesthetic spray. You will also be offered medication (a sedative) to make you go into a light sleep. This will be given by a small injection into a vein in your arm or hand. The gastroscopy will take approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
You will spend some time in the endoscopy recovery room after the procedure (probably 1-2 hours) to sleep off the sedative and to allow staff to monitor you (take your blood pressure and pulse recordings, etc). Because you have been sedated intravenously (given medication to make you sleep) it is important that you know that you should not drive a car, operate machinery or make any important decisions for 12 hours as the sedation impairs your reflexes and judgement. Therefore you will need to arrange for someone else to drive you home and it is recommended that you have an adult at home with you afterwards.
If biopsies are taken for examination, your GP and specialist will be sent the results within 5 to 7 working days. A medical typed report will be sent to your GP and the specialist. Follow-up information and recommendations will be given to you by the specialist prior to discharge from the Endoscopy Unit.
- Gastroscopy procedure - Printable copy (PDF, 313.5 KB)