A gastroscopy is a medical procedure where a thin, flexible tube called
an endoscope is used to look inside the stomach.
The procedure is also sometimes referred to as an upper endoscopy. An endoscope has a light and a camera at one end. The camera sends images
of the inside of your body to a television monitor.
A gastroscopy can take about 15 minutes, depending on why it's being
used. It's usually carried out as an outpatient procedure, which means
that you won't have to spend the night in hospital.
The procedure is often carried out under sedation. You won't be asleep
but you'll be very drowsy and have little awareness about what's
happening. Alternatively, your throat can be numbed with a local anesthetic
spray. The doctor carrying out the procedure will place the endoscope
in the back of your mouth and ask you to swallow the first part of the
tube. It will then be guided down your esophagus and into your stomach.
A gastroscopy may be recommended if you have symptoms that suggest a stomach
problem. This could be difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) 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 gut-related problems. Tiny
tools can be passed down the endoscope to:
- Repair bleeding ulcers and veins
- Widen a blocked esophagus (the tube through which food passes to the stomach)
- Provide nutrition if you're unable to eat food in the normal way
- Remove non-cancerous growths (polyps) or early-stage cancerous tumors
Preparation Required Before Procedure
If you're referred for a gastroscopy, you'll need to stop taking
any prescribed medicines for indigestion at least two weeks beforehand.
This is because the medication can mask some of the problems that a gastroscopy
could find. You can continue to take antacids up until your endoscopy.
If you're taking any of the following medications, you should phone
the endoscopy unit before your appointment because special arrangements
may need to be made:
- Any medication that's used to treat diabetes, such as insulin or metformin
- Blood-thinning medication (used to prevent blood clots), such as low-dose
aspirin, warfarin or clopidogrel
Don't wear nail polish on the day of your appointment because it can
interfere with a device that's attached to your finger to monitor
your oxygen levels.
It's important that your stomach is empty so that the whole area can
be seen clearly. You'll be asked not to eat or drink anything after
midnight the night before your gastroscopy.
After the procedure, you should not eat or drink anything for at least an hour.