This information is for patients who are having a gastroscopy examination. It tells you what is involved and about any risks. The test itself lasts about 5-10 minutes and normally you will be able to go home 30-90 minutes later.
It is an examination of the inside of your oesphagus (gullet), the stomach and the duodenum (the first bend of the small intestine). It is sometimes called endoscopy or OGD. A thin, flexible tube (a gastroscope) is passed through the mouth into the stomach and photographs and biopsies are routinely taken.
• for this examination to be successful and to have a clear view, your stomach must be empty. It is important to have nothing to eat for 6 hours before your test. You may drink small amounts of clear fluids and take tablets with a sip water up to 2 hours before.
• if you are taking blood thinning medications (e.g. warfarin or other anticoagulants, clopidogrel or other anti-platelet agents) please inform us. You may continue to take other medications as normal including on the morning of the procedure.
• a nurse will check your details, blood pressure and pulse. If you are allergic to anything please tell the nurse.
• the procedure will be explained and you will be asked to sign a consent form confirming that you understand and agree to go ahead.
• a local anaesthetic spray to numb the back of your throat; this has a slightly bitter taste.
• an injection of sedative into a vein in your hand, to make you relax. This may make you drowsy and often leads to a hazy memory of the procedure. Some patients may wish not to have a sedative injection given that the test is quick, painless and very safe. This is a personal decision.
• you will be given oxygen and will have a device attached to your finger which monitors your heart rate and breathing. You will then lie on your left side and a small mouthpiece will be placed between your teeth.
• the gastroscope will gently be inserted into your stomach. This is not painful and will not make breathing or swallowing difficult, but you may feel uncomfortable during the test and it can make you gag. Careful continued slow breathing (through mouth or nose) may alleviate any discomfort.
• a biopsy may be taken during the examination to be sent to the laboratory for testing. You cannot feel this being done.
• you will return to the recovery area. If you had the local anaesthetic throat spray you can have a drink as soon as your swallowing is back to normal, usually after about 10-20 minutes.
• you will receive the result of the examination before you go home. Any biopsy results will take longer.
• although after having sedation you often feel fully awake it is important to arrange for somebody to pick you up from the hospital, or if arranging transport for somebody to be at home to look after you. They can then deal with any problems that may arise, despite this being very unlikely.
• it is important that after sedation you do not attempt to drive for 24 hours.
This examination is very safe. There is a very small risk of the following:
• damage to crowned teeth or dental bridgework.
• a reaction to the sedative. The sedative can affect your breathing making it slow and shallow.
• a sore throat can occur (10% risk) and this can be treated with over the counter lozenges from your local pharmacy.
• perforation (inadvertently making a hole in the intestine) is serious but very rare. It usually requires a stay in hospital and sometimes surgical repair.