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Southern DHB Gastroenterology Services

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver)


This is a procedure which allows the endoscopist to see inside your oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) and examine the lining directly.   The gastroscope is a flexible soft coated tube about as thick as a marker pen.  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 usually sprayed with local 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) but you can choose to have no sedation.  If the endoscopist 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 usually be performed as a day stay patient by a specialist endoscopist with nurses assisting. Complications from this procedure are very rare but can occur. They include bleeding after a biopsy, allergic reaction to the sedative or throat spray and 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 for six hours and not to take any of your medications on the day of the appointment. 

Afterwards you will stay in the post procedure area until you have recovered and are safe to send home and you have been given your discharge instructions.  Time in this area is between 15 minutes and 2 hours, depending on sedation effect and how you are feeling.  You will be given something to eat or drink before you go home unless you have had throat spray.  If you have had sedation, you are not to drive until the following day. If biopsies are taken these will be sent for analysis and results are available within one week.  All information will be sent to your GP.

This page was last updated at 10:01AM on March 15, 2021.