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What is Gastroscopy

Gastroscopy is a test which allows the consultant to look directly at the lining of the oesophagus (the gullet), the stomach and around the first bend of the small intestine – the duodenum.

In order to do the test a gastroscope is carefully passed through your mouth into the stomach. The gastroscope is a long flexible tube, with a bright light at the end. Looking down the tube, the consultant gets a clear view of the lining of the stomach and can check whether any disease is present. Sometimes the consultant takes a biopsy, which is removed painlessly through the gastroscope, using tiny forceps. This tissue is then sent to the laboratory for further tests.

What can I expect?

In the examination room you will be made comfortable on a couch, lying on your left side. A nurse will stay with you throughout the test. It is normal in this procedure for the consultant to give you sedation, this will make you relaxed and sleepy. Our consultant will then insert a small flexible tube (gastroscope) into your stomach. This will not cause you any pain, nor will it interfere with your breathing at any time. The stomach will be gently inflated by passing air to expand it so that the lining can be seen more clearly.

The air will be sucked out at the end of the test. If you get a lot of saliva in your mouth, the nurse will gently suck it out. The test usually takes up to 10 minutes. When the test is finished, the gastroscope is removed quickly and easily after the examination.

Are there any risks?

A gastroscopy is a very safe examination, but very rarely problems can occur.

Perforation – this is a small tear in the lining of the oesophagus (the gullet) or stomach, which can happen during the test. It may not need treating at all, but could require surgery, in which case you would need to stay in hospital.

Bleeding is extremely rare after gastroscopy. If you think you might be bleeding please contact your GP, the Endoscopy Centre or your local Accident and Emergency department.

After the Test?

You will rest after the procedure until you feel awake enough to get up. This can take up two hours. If you have had a sedative injection you may eat and drink as soon as you feel able. However, if you have had the local anaesthetic throat spray you will have to wait until your swallowing reflex is back to normal, which will typically be after an hour.

The back of your throat may also feel sore, this is usually eased by having a drink. You may also feel a little bloated if some air has remained in your stomach. Both these discomforts will pass and need no medication.

Going Home?

If you have had a sedative injection as a part of the test it is essential that someone collects you to take you home. Once home, it is important to rest quietly for the remainder of the day. Sedation lasts longer than you think.

For 24 hours after your test you should not:
 - drive a car
 - operate machinery
 - drink alcohol

The effects of the test and sedation should have worn off by the next day, when most patients are able to resume normal activities.