What is a gastroscopy?

It is an examination of the inside of your oesophagus (gullet), the stomach and the duodenum (the first bend of the small intestine). See the diagram. A thin, flexible tube approximately the size of a little finger (a gastroscope) is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The tip of the endoscope contains a light and a tiny video camera so that the endoscopist can see inside your gut, allowing the endoscopist to see what might be causing the symptoms that you are experiencing. (This procedure is sometimes called an endoscopy).

Preparation for the test

  • For this examination to be successful and allow a clear view of the stomach and colon, they must be as empty.
  • It is important to have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before your test.
  • If you have diabetes or haemophilia, please phone the Ward for specific advice.
  • If you are taking warfarin, clopidogrel, or other blood thinning medications, please inform us at least one week before the test.
  • If you have a pacemaker or ICD, please inform us at least one week before the test.

The test may be affected if you are taking certain medications for the stomach. Stop taking the following drugs one week before the test if you have not been diagnosed with an ulcer or Barrett’s Oesophagus:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)
  • Lansoprazole (Zoton)
  • Omeprazole (Losec)
  • Pantoprazole (Protium)
  • Rabeprazole (Pariet)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Fanotidine (Pepcid).

Continue to take your other medications with a sip of water.

  • Please bring a list of any medications you are currently taking.
  • If you have any queries about your medication, please ring the ward.
  • It is especially important to remember to bring any asthma inhalers or angina sprays with you.
  • Do not bring any valuables to the ward.

Click the link for a check list for your gastroscopy


  • The nurse or endoscopist will discuss with you a local anaesthetic spray (numbing) on the back of your throat; this has a bitter taste. You can also have an injection of sedation into a vein in your hand or arm to help you relax.
  • If you wish to have sedation; A small needle will be placed into a vein. The needle is then removed leaving a small plastic tube. A sedative and/or painkiller will be injected before the examination. This will make you feel relaxed but rarely induces sleep. (This will be left lightly taped to your hand/arm until you are recovered from the procedure then removed after the procedure is completed).
  • A small device for recording pulse and breathing called a finger probe will be attached to your finger and you will be given oxygen using a tube placed up your nose.
  • A cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure (please inform the nurse if there is a reason why a certain arm cannot be used).
  • Then, while you are lying on your left side, a small mouthpiece will be placed in your mouth and if you are having sedation you will be given oxygen via tubes placed up your nose.
  • The endoscopist will gently insert the gastroscope into your stomach. This is not painful and will not make breathing or swallowing difficult, but you may feel like retching and feel uncomfortable during the test.
  • The stomach will be gently inflated with air to expand it so that the lining can be seen more clearly. The air is sucked out at the end of the test.
  • A biopsy (a small sample of the stomach lining) may be taken during the examination to be sent to the laboratory for more tests. You cannot feel this. (A video recording and/or photographs may also be taken).
  • The nurse may need to clear saliva from your mouth using a small suction tube.
  • Afterwards the gastroscope is removed easily.

This test is very safe, but there are some risks associated with this procedure.

These include:

  • Damage to crowned teeth or dental bridgework.
  • A reaction to the sedative. The sedative can affect your breathing making it slow and shallow.
  • Fever (raised temperature).
  • There is a slightly increased risk of developing a chest infection after this procedure.
  • A feeling of bloating due to the air we need to insert so we can clearly see where we are.
  • A small amount of bleeding may occur following a biopsy.
  • Perforation, which is a little tear in the wall of the gullet, stomach or colon, this is also rare. (Risk approximately one for every 1000 examinations). This would require a short stay in hospital and treatment with antibiotics, or very occasionally may require surgical repair;
  • Please talk to your endoscopist before your examination if you have any worries about the risks

Please report to the reception of Spencer Private Hospital and a nurse will check your details, blood pressure, and pulse. If you are allergic to anything (such as medicine, latex, plasters), please tell the nurse.

You will have the test explained to you during your admission and then be asked to sign a consent form.

You do not need to change but should remove your coat or jacket. You will also be asked to remove any spectacles, contact lenses, tongue studs, and dentures (if you have them). A nurse will stay with you throughout the examination.

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

You the procedure is complete, you will return to the ward area to rest. Once recovered you may eat and drink as normal. You may still have a little wind; this is natural so don't worry. The nurse will then tell you the result of the examination before you go home. Any biopsy result will take longer.

If you had the sedative injection, you must have a friend or relative with transport to collect you from the ward and stay with you at home for at least 24 hours until you are fully recovered.

You are advised not to drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery (including an electric kettle), or sign important documents for 24 hours following the sedative.

You may notice that your bowels do not return to normal for a few days following the procedure.

A letter will be sent to your GP disclosing any further results.

If you develop any severe pain in the neck, chest, or abdomen within the first 24 hours of your procedure please phone Accident and Emergency.

Yes, there is a Barium Swallow and CT Scan. They are both very good at looking at the upper digestive tract but are unable to look closely at the lining or take biopsies. This means that you would probably require a gastroscopy anyway.

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