What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a procedure during which an endoscope (a long, thin flexible tube with a video camera at the end) is passed through the mouth and into the stomach. It allows your doctor to examine and treat conditions affecting the oesophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Why is a gastroscopy done?

A gastroscopy is usually done to investigate symptoms such as abdominal pain, heartburn, indigestion, difficulty swallowing and nausea or vomiting. A gastroscopy can also be used to treat various gastrointestinal conditions and allows your doctor to treat bleeding, to dilate a narrowing, to place a stent or resect abnormal tissue.

How do I prepare for a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy requires very little preparation. For safety reasons, and to ensure adequate visualization, it is essential that your stomach is completely empty. You should therefore have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to your gastroscopy.

Whilst most medications can be taken as usual with a sip of water on the day of your procedure, some medications need to be stopped, or have their dose altered.

You should notify us at least 7 days prior to your procedure if you are taking:

  • Blood thinners (plavix, warfarin, pradaxa etc) or
  • Diabetes medications (metformin, insulin etc)

Please bring your referral, a full list of your medications and your Medicare card on the day of your procedure.

What will happen on the day?

After registering at reception, you will be seen briefly by your Gastroenterologist and your anaesthetist who will discuss your medical history and the procedure. Immediately before the gastroscopy your throat will be sprayed with a local anaesthetic, and a small plastic mouthguard will be placed between your teeth to stop you biting the endoscope. You will then be given a light anaesthetic (sedative). While this is not a full anaesthetic, most patients are very comfortable during the procedure and don’t remember anything afterwards. Once sedated and lying in a comfortable position on your left side the endoscope is passed through your mouth and into your stomach. The procedure usually lasts for between 5 and 10 mins.

What happens after my gastroscopy?

Following the procedure you will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the sedative medication has worn off. You will then be offered something to eat and drink. Because of the sedative medication, it is essential that you have a friend or relative take you home and stay with you for several hours. It is strongly recommended that you do not drive, operate machinery or sign legal documents on the same day after the test.

Are there any risks or side-effects?

Overall a gastroscopy is a very safe procedure that most patients tolerate extremely well. The most common side effects include mild throat soreness, and abdominal discomfort related to retained air in the stomach. More serious but rare complications can occur and include bleeding, or a tear in the lining of the stomach (perforation). If this happens you will be admitted to hospital for an operation to repair it.

Please contact our rooms or your nearest emergency department if you have concerns or experience any of the following symptoms following your gastroscopy:

  • Worsening chest or abdominal pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fevers
  • Other symptoms that cause you concern.

Your Gastroenterologist will discuss having a gastroscopy with you in detail on the day of your procedure, however if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.