Skip to content

Surgery Door
Search our Site
Tip: Try using OR to broaden your
search e.g: Cartilage or joints
.

Gastroscopy

What is it?

A gastroscope is a bendy telescope about the diameter of a pen and about three feet long. This passes very easily down the throat and beyond. Strictly speaking a gastroscopy is just an examination of your stomach. But on the way, you are examined from the back of your mouth right down the oesophagus, the tube which runs inside your chest and connects the back of your mouth to your stomach. You may also be examined beyond your stomach into the upper part of the gut called the duodenum. Snippets of the lining of the stomach and other parts (biopsies) may be taken to help find out what is causing your problem.

Gastroscopy

Diagram © Copyright EMIS and PIP 2005

The operation

First you will have your mouth and the back of your throat sprayed three or four times to make the lining numb. The spray tastes of orange and is a little sour. Then you have a fine, thin plastic tube put into a vein in your arm in case a sedative is needed. You will be turned to lie on your left side. You will be given a plastic tooth guard to bite on. Then the gastroscope is passed slowly down the back of your tongue. It tickles and makes fizzing noises. You will be asked to swallow once or twice to get the tube started on its journey down the back of your throat. You will be able to breathe normally, but you will find it difficult to talk because of the tube. You may feel your tummy swelling a little with wind as air is blown down the gastroscope to get a good view. You may even burp loudly. This is expected. The swelling soon passes off. Some people get a sickly feeling at one moment during the examination. This passes quickly. As the gastroscope is taken out at the end of the examination, it makes a noise in your mouth as it clears any secretions. You can always choose to have a general anaesthetic if you prefer.


Any alternatives

It is important to know what is going on inside your stomach and the other parts of your feeding (digestive) system. X-rays and scans are not the answer at this stage. Doing nothing may mean that something important may be missed.


Before the operation

You will need to stop drinking and eating 12 hours before the examination. This will make sure your stomach is empty for the examination. Check you have a relative or friend who can come with you to the hospital and take you home. Bring all your tablets and medicines with you to the hospital. On the ward, you may be checked for past illnesses and may have special tests to make sure that you are well prepared and that you can have the procedure as safely as possible. . Many hospitals now run special preadmission clinics, where you visit for an hour or two, a few weeks or so before the operation for these checks.


After - in hospital

 You may feel drowsy afterwards. You may in fact not remember the gastroscopy at all. You should not drink for one hour after the gastroscopy while your throat is numb. After two hours you can eat and drink normally. You can leave hospital after an hour or two provided someone goes with you. You may be given an appointment to visit the outpatient department for the result of the examination. Often your family doctor will handle the check up. Please ask the nurses about sick notes, certificates etc.


After - at home

You may feel tired for a day or so. The sedative will make you slow, clumsy and forgetful for about 24 hours. Do not make important decisions, drive a car, use machinery, or even boil a kettle during that time.


Possible complications

If you have this procedure under general anaesthetic, there is a very small risk of complications related to your heart and lungs. The tests that you will have before the procedure will make sure that you can have the it in the safest possible way and will bring the risk for such complications very close to zero.

The examination is virtually free from complications. There may be some soreness of the throat for a day or so. Extremely rarely, especially if biopsies are taken, you can have some prolonged bleeding from the area of the biopsies or even a hole in your oesophagus or stomach that will require an operation to fix it.


General advice

The examination is very quick and easy. We hope these notes will help you through your operation. They are a general guide. They do not cover everything. Also, all hospitals and surgeons vary a little. If you have any queries or problems, please ask the doctors or nurses.