This section of the wesbite details what a gastroscopy is, and provides information for patients preparing for the procedure. This information is available in alternative format by clicking here.
What is a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is a procedure which allows the endoscopist to examine your oesophagus (gullet), stomach, and the first part of your duodenum (small bowel). A long thin flexible tube about the thickness of your little finger with a mini video camera built into its tip, called an endoscope, is used for this procedure.
During the procedure the endoscopist may take a small tissue sample to be analysed under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.
It will not be necessary for you to undress for the gastroscopy.
In the endoscopy room you will be made comfortable on a couch, lying flat on your left side. A nurse will stay with you throughout the test. A plastic mouthpiece will be placed gently between your teeth or gums, in order to keep your mouth open. When the endoscopist passes the endoscope through the mouthpiece and into your stomach, it will not cause any pain, nor will it interfere with your breathing at any time. During the test some air will be passed down the endoscope to distend the stomach and allow the endoscopist a clear view. The air is sucked out at the end of the test. When the examination is finished the endoscope is removed quickly and easily. The procedure lasts approximately 15 minutes from entering the endoscopy room.
Sedation or Throat Spray?
You will be given the choice of whether you wish to have the gastroscopy performed with throat spray or sedation. If you are anxious about the procedure you may chose to have sedation:
Sedation involves giving you an injection that will make you relaxed and sleepy during the investigation. If you have the sedation you will have to bring an escort with you for the procedure. They must remain in the department while you are having your gastroscopy and then your escort must take you home after the procedure. The escort does not come into the endoscopy room while you have your procedure done.
A liquid will be sprayed into your mouth which will numb the back of the throat and help to make it less sensitive. You will not be able to eat and drink for one hour after the test. You can drive and go about your normal activities immediately after the investigation.
Before the Procedure
For your gastroscopy it is essential that you have nothing to eat for 6 hours before your appointment. However, you can drink water up to two hours before your appointment time. After that have nothing to eat or drink until after your gastroscopy.
Medicines and Medical Conditions
It is important you bring a list of your current medication with you so that you can give it to the nurse on arrival.
If this is your FIRST Gastroscopy
If you take any of the following medication, please stop taking it one week before your appointment:
- Zantac (Ranitidine)
- Tagamet (Cimetidine)
- Losec (Omeprazole)
- Zoton (Lansoprazole)
- Axid (Nizatidine)
- Protium (Pantoprazole)
- Pariet (Rabeprazole)
- Nexium (Esomeprazole).
If you have been taking any of the above medications long term, please consult your GP first.
If you are having a REPEAT Gastroscopy
Do not stop any of your current medication
If you are taking Warfarin tablets, please inform the Gastroenterology Unit as soon as possible, as our doctors may decide that it is necessary for you to stop taking your tablets for a limited time before the gastroscopy.
If you suffer from diabetes, please inform the Gastroenterology Unit as soon as possible, as it may be necessary to change the time of your appointment or be admitted to hospital a day before your procedure for treatment. If your diabetes is managed by your GP please contact the surgery for advice. If under the care of Elsie Bertram Diabetes Centre , please contact your Diabetes specialist nurse on 01603 288513.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding please contact the Gastroenterology Unit.
When you come to the department, the procedure will be explained and a doctor will ask you to sign a consent form. This is to ensure you understand the test and its implications / risks. If you have any worries or questions at this stage dont be afraid to ask. The staff will want you to be as relaxed as possible for the test and will not mind answering your queries.
After the Procedure
The endoscopist will talk to you at the end of the procedure, explaining what has been found. However, if a biopsy has been taken the results may take several days. Details of the results and any necessary treatment will be sent to your GP or a further outpatient appointment may be necessary. You will be left to rest as you may feel sleepy if you have had sedation. If you chose to have sedation it is a good idea for the person taking you home to be with your when you speak to the endoscopist. If sedation has been used, people find they forget what has been said and may not even recollect having the test at all.
Returning Home or Back to the Ward
Once you have returned home, or back to your ward you may begin to eat and drink normally and resume your normal medication, unless instructed otherwise by the Doctor.
If you have had sedation you must have someone to escort you home and stay with you for the 24 hours after your test.
Following sedation you must not do any of the following for 24 hours:
- Drive a motor vehicle
- Drink Alcohol
- Operate Machinery
- Sign Legal Documents
Side effects of this procedure are usually minimal, sometimes patients may feel bloated and / or have a sore throat for the rest of the day. This can be relieved by normal analgesia. You will be given an advice sheet on after care and signs to watch for when you have had your procedure.
What are the Risks and Complications?
The possible complications of a gastroscopy include:
- a possibility that the oesophagus, stomach or intestine may be damaged or, in rare and extreme cases, perforated during the procedure. This can lead to bleeding and infection, which may require treatment with medicines or surgery.
- a slightly increased risk of chest infection after the procedure.
In a few cases, the gastroscopy is not successfully completed and may need to be repeated.
Useful sources of information
Additional information can be found at these websites:
- National Library for Health
- American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE)
- CORE (formally Digestive Disorders Foundation)
- American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE)
Leeds Teaching Hospitals Centre for Digestive Diseases