Gastroscopy (Endoscopy)


A gastroscopy is a test where an operator looks into the upper part of your gut (the upper gastrointestinal tract). An endoscope is a thin, flexible telescope. It is about as thick as a little finger. The endoscope is passed through the mouth, into the esophagus and down towards the stomach and duodenum. The tip of the endoscope contains a light and a tiny video camera so the operator can see inside your gut. The endoscope also has a 'side channel' down which various instruments can pass. These can be manipulated by the operator.

Who has a gastroscopy?

  1. A gastroscopy may be advised if you have the following sort of conditions:
  2. Oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus).
  3. Duodenal and stomach ulcers.
  4. Duodenitis and gastritis.
  5. Cancer of the stomach and esophagus.

What happens during a gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient 'day case'. It is a routine test which is commonly done. The operator may numb the back of your throat by spraying on some local anesthetic. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax.

You lie on your side on a couch. You are asked to put a plastic mouth guard between your teeth. This protects your teeth and stops you biting the endoscope. The operator will then ask you to swallow the first section of the endoscope. Modern endoscopes are quite thin and easy to swallow. The operator then gently pushes it further down your oesophagus, and into your stomach and duodenum. The operator watches the screen for abnormalities of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Air is passed down a channel in the endoscope into the stomach to make the stomach lining easier to see. The operator may take one or more biopsies (small samples) of parts of the inside lining of the gut - depending on why the test is done and what they see. This is painless.

A gastroscopy usually takes about 10 minutes. A gastroscopy does not usually hurt, but it can be a little uncomfortable, particularly when you first swallow the endoscope.

What preparation do I need to do?

  1. You should get instructions from the hospital department before your test.
  2. You should not eat for 4-6 hours before the test. The stomach needs to be empty. (Small sips of water may be allowed up to two hours before the test.)
  3. If you have a sedative you will need somebody to accompany you home.

Are there any side-effects or complications from having a gastroscopy?
Most gastroscopies are done without any problem. Some people have a mildly sore throat for a day or so afterwards. You may feel tired or sleepy for several hours if you have a sedative. There is a slightly increased risk of developing a chest infection or pneumonia following a gastroscopy. Occasionally, the endoscope causes some damage to the gut.

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