What is a Gastroscopy?

This is a test that allows the endoscopist to look into your oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum (small bowel), using a small flexible tube (endoscope).  This contains a camera so that the endoscopist can see the lining of the stomach to check for problems which might be causing your symptoms.  This type of endoscopy is sometimes referred to as an upper endoscopy or an OGD.  They are just different terms for a gastroscopy.

Sometimes the endoscopist takes a biopsy – a sample of the lining - for examination in the laboratory.  A small piece of tissue is removed painlessly through the endoscope using tiny forceps.  There are now very advanced endoscopes which are slimmer and make the test much more comfortable.

The endoscope is generally passed through the nose and into the gullet, however, if your nose is narrow or has been damaged it may not be possible to pass the nasal endoscope. If this is the case we will pass the endoscope through the mouth.

Are there any complications?

As with every medical procedure the risk must be compared to the benefit of having the procedure carried out.  Your doctor who has requested the test will have considered this very carefully.

Gastroscopy is what is known as an invasive procedure and, therefore, carries risks/complication.

The major risks/complications include:

  • Loose teeth, crowns and bridgework can occasionally be dislodged.
  • If you have a narrowing of the gullet there is a risk of making a small hole [perforation]. This happens very rarely unless it is a cancerous narrowing (stricture) when the chance increases to about 1 in 10
  • Pneumonia from stomach juices getting into the lungs can occur in very frail patients.
  • Bleeding from the biopsy site. This usually settles on its own.
  • Disturbance of your heart rate and breathing.
  • A sore throat or abdominal tenderness. Incomplete gastroscopy occurs if the test is abandoned due to technical difficulty or because it was causing you distress. A further test such as a barium swallow/meal may be recommended in the future.

Please read the patient information leaflet "Gastroscopy Instruction Notes" for more detail about how to prepare for a Gastroscopy contained in the Patient Information Page of the website.

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