Barnaby Smith – General, Laparoscopic and Endoscopic Surgeon
Gastroscopy allows examination of the upper part of your digestive tract i.e. oesophagus (food pipe), stomach and duodenum (top section of the small intestine), by passing a gastroscope (long, flexible tube with a camera on the end) through your mouth and down your digestive tract. Images from the camera are displayed on a television monitor. Sometimes a small tissue sample (biopsy) will need to be taken during the procedure for later examination at a laboratory.
Gastroscopy may be used to diagnose peptic ulcers, tumours, gastritis etc.
Complications from this procedure are very rare but can occur. They include: bleeding if a biopsy is performed; allergic reaction to the sedative or throat spray; perforation (tearing) of the stomach with the instrument (this is a serious but extremely rare complication).
What to expect
All endoscopic procedures are viewed as a surgical procedure and generally the same preparation will apply. You will not be able to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your gastroscopy. When you are ready for the procedure, the back of your throat will be sprayed with anaesthetic. You will also be offered medication (a sedative) to make you go into a light sleep. This will be given by an injection into a vein in your arm or hand.
The gastroscopy will take approximately 15 minutes, but you will probably sleep for another 30 minutes. You will spend some time in a recovery unit (probably 1-2 hours) to sleep off the sedative and to allow staff to monitor you (take blood pressure readings etc). Because you have been sedated (given medication to make you sleep) it is important that you arrange for someone else to drive you home.
If biopsies are taken for examination, your GP will be sent the results within 2-3 weeks.