Gastroscopy (Upper Endoscopy)

What is Gastroscopy?

Upper GI endoscopy (gastroscopy) is a visual examination of the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and the first part of the intestine. The procedure is commonly undertaken if the doctor suspects that you have a problem of the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum eg an ulcer, cancer, inflammation or other abnormality. Assessment for Coeliac disease which will include a small bowel biopsy can also be undertaken. An intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in the arm for sedation to be given. Sedatives help patients stay relaxed and comfortable. While patients are sedated, the doctor and medical staff monitor vital signs. Oxygen is always administered using a nasal catheter or mask.

Before the procedure

You will need to fast for 6 hours before the procedure (ie no food). You are able to drink plain water up to 4 hours before the procedure.

How is Gastroscopy performed?

A long, thin flexible instrument is inserted through your mouth. The doctor will be able to look for any abnormalities which may be present. If necessary, small tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during the examination (painlessly) for detailed laboratory analysis. Some treatment can also be done through the endoscope. These include stretching (dilating) narrowed areas of the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum, removing polyps and swallowed objects, and treatment of bleeding blood vessels and ulcers by internal injection or application of heat (using electrical diathermy).

Risks associated with Gastroscopy

Endoscopy can result in complications such as reactions to medication, damage to teeth and gums, perforation of the upper gastrointestinal tract and bleeding. These complications are rare (less than 1 in 1000 examinations) but may require urgent treatment or even an operation. The possibility of complications is greater when the endoscope is used to apply treatment. You should advise the nursing staff if you have serious heart or chest problems as special precautions may need to be taken to reduce any possible risk. If you have any reservations or wish to discuss the matter further please inform the nursing staff before your procedure.