This is a procedure which allows the doctor to see inside your oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) and examine the lining directly.
What to expect
The gastroscope is a plastic-coated tube about as thick as a ballpoint pen and is flexible. It has a tiny camera attached that sends images to a viewing screen. During the test you will swallow the tube but the back of your throat is sprayed with anaesthetic so you don't feel this. You will be offered a sedative (medicine that will make you sleepy but is not a general anaesthetic) as well. If the doctor sees any abnormalities they can take a biopsy (a small piece of tissue) to send to the laboratory for testing.
This is not a painful procedure and will be performed at the day stay unit in a theatre suite (operating room) by a specialist doctor with nurses assisting.
Complications from this procedure are very rare but can occur. They include:
- bleeding after a biopsy, if performed
- an allergic reaction to the sedative or throat spray
- perforation (tearing) of the stomach with the instrument (this is a serious but extremely rare complication).
Before the procedure
You will be asked not to eat anything from midnight the night before and not to take any of your medications on the day of the procedure.
After the procedure
You will stay in the day stay unit until the sedation has worn off which usually takes 1-2 hours. You will be given something to eat or drink before you go home. If you have been sedated, you are not to drive until the following day.
If biopsies are taken these will be sent for analysis and results are available within 2-3 weeks. A report and copies of these are sent to your GP.