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Upper GI endoscopy

Sometimes referred to as gastroscopy or simply an endoscopy the test allows the specialist to look directly at the lining of the oesophagus (the gullet), the stomach and around the first bend of the small intestine (the duodenum).

An endoscope is passed through your mouth into your stomach. The endoscope is a long flexible tube with a bright light and video clip at the end. The view through the endoscope is displayed on a screen so you may be able to watch the procedure yourself.

The Endoscopist gets a clear view of the lining of the stomach and can check whether or not any disease is present. Sometimes the Endoscopist takes a biopsy - a sample of tissue for analysis in the laboratory. The tissue is removed painlessly through the endoscope.

What should you expect?

To gain a clear view, the stomach must be empty. You will therefore be asked not to have anything to eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the test. When you arrive at the hospital the specialist will explain the test to you and gain your consent to proceed. This is to ensure that you understand the test and its implications. Please tell the nurse specialist if you have previously had any allergies or adverse reactions to previous tests or medication. Do not be afraid to ask if you have any concerns at this stage. The nurse specialist will want you to be as relaxed as possible for the test and will be happy to answer any queries.

During the test you will be made comfortable and a nurse will stay with you throughout the endoscopy. Some Endoscopists may spray a local anaesthetic on the back of your throat. You may also be given an injection to make you feel relaxed. A significant number of endoscopies are performed without sedation.

To keep your mouth slightly open, a plastic mouthpiece will be put between your teeth. When the Endoscopist passes the endoscope into your stomach it will not cause you any pain, nor will it interfere with your breathing. It may take up to 15 minutes to examine all the areas of the stomach carefully. During this time some air will be passed down the tube to distend the stomach and allow the specialist a clearer view - the air is sucked out at the end of the test. The nurse will clear excess saliva in your mouth with suction. When the examination is finished, the endoscope is removed.

Risks include the slight possibility of damage to teeth, crowns and bridges.

After the endoscopy

You will be left to rest for at least 30 minutes after the procedure. As your throat has been numbed by spray you will need to wait until your swallowing reflex is back to normal before having a drink of water. After this, you can eat and drink normally, however, the back of your throat may feel sore for the rest of the day. You may also feel a little bloated if some of the air has remained in your stomach. Both these discomforts will pass quickly.

It is essential that someone picks you up after your procedure if you have had sedation. It is important to rest for the remainder of the day.

The results

In many cases the specialist or nurse will be able to tell you the results straight after the test, or if you have been sedated, as soon as you are awake. However, if a sample (biopsy) has been taken for examination, the results may take several days. The detail of the results should be discussed with your consultant gastroenterologist together with a treatment plan personalised for you.

Treatment Overview

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