020 3727 0935
Dr Philip Woodland
BSc PhD MBBS MRCP
Dyspepsia and peptic ulcers
Irritable bowel syndrome
Inflammatory bowel disease
Having a colonoscopy
What is a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is a camera test that allows direct visualisation of the
oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small
bowel). It can also be called an upper GI endoscopy, or an OGD
Why is a gastroscopy done?
A gastroscopy gives an excellent idea about what the upper
gastrointestinal tract looks like. It is the best test available to
diagnose oesophageal and stomach cancers, and can also diagnose
inflammation, ulcers and narrowing in the upper GI tract.
It also gives an opportunity to take small biopsy samples through
the camera that can be looked at microscopically by a pathologist.
How is it done?
The gastroscopy can be done either after a local anaesthetic spray in the mouth, or after injection of a sedative.
When you have a gastroscopy you are lying down on your left side. There will usually be 2 nurses in the room (one to stay by you and guide you through the test, and the other to help the endoscopist). The endoscopist passes the camera (which is thinner than your little finger) through the mouth, over the back of the tongue, and into the oesophagus. He/she will then guide the camera into the stomach and duodenum, having a careful look as it is done. If biopsy samples are done, tiny (a couple of millimetre) samples of the lining of the oesophagus/stomach/duodenum are taken using small forceps that are passed through the endoscope.
Usually the whole procedure is complete within about 5 minutes.
What preparation do I need?
For safety, and to ensure the stomach can be seen well, it is important that the stomach is empty for the test. It is therefore important that you follow the instructions from the endoscopy unit before the test. This will involve a period of fasting before the test takes place. You may also be asked to stop some of your medications for a period before the test, and you will be advised of this when booking.
What are the risks of a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is a very safe test. There is a very small risk (1 in 10000) of a serious problem such as causing a bleed, or a perforation (a tear caused by the endoscope).
When do I get the results?
Your endoscopist should be able to tell you how the test looked before you go home. If biopsy samples are taken the results of the these may take a few days.