A gastroscopy is also known as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. It’s performed using a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera (about the width of your little finger) and is called a gastroscope or endoscope. The procedure is usually performed as an outpatient day case and takes about 15 minutes .
In the treatment room, you will be asked to place a plastic mouth guard between your teeth. This protects your teeth and stops you biting the endoscope. Your consultant will place the endoscope in the back of your mouth and ask you to swallow the first part of the tube. Your doctor may numb the back of your throat by spraying some local anaesthetic. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. The sedative can make you drowsy but it does not put you to sleep. It is not a general anaesthetic.
Once the gastroscope is swallowed, it passes down your oesophagus into your stomach and then into the duodenum. Air is passed down a channel in the endoscope into the stomach to make the stomach lining easier to see. This may cause you to feel full and want to belch.
The camera sends images of the inside of your body to a television monitor. At the end of the procedure, the endoscope is gently pulled out.
A gastroscopy may be recommended for a variety of reasons, such as having symptoms that suggest a stomach problem, difficulty swallowing or persistent abdominal pain. The procedure can be used to help diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms.
A gastroscopy can also be used to treat various problems. The endoscope has a channel down which various instruments can pass to:
- Repair bleeding ulcers and veins
- Widen a blocked oesophagus
- Remove non-cancerous growths or early-stage cancerous tumours
Prior to the procedure, your consultant will give you the following advice:
- Do not eat for 4-6 hours before the gastroscopy. Small sips of water may be allowed until 2-hours before your test.
- If you are having the procedure performed under a sedative, you will need to be accompanied home by an adult.
- Which medication needs to be continued or stopped prior to the procedure.
Following your gastroscopy, you may be ready to go home, after resting for 30 minutes.
Recovery following a sedative takes a little longer. You should not drive, operate machinery or drink alcohol for 24 hours after having the sedative. You will need somebody to accompany you home and to stay with you for 24 hours until the effects have fully worn off. Most people are able to resume normal activities after 24 hours have passed.
Some people have a mildly sore throat for a day or so afterwards and 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. You may experience difficulty breathing or vomit blood. If you are concerned about any post-treatment symptoms, you should contact the hospital immediately.