Gastroscopy

Examines the gullet, stomach and duodenum with a thin telescope.


What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a procedure to look inside the upper part of your digestive tract ie your oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). It is performed by a doctor or a nurse who is specially trained in this procedure (an endoscopist). 

A gastroscopy is a type of endoscopy. This means it involves inserting a thin, flexible instrument, which has a tiny camera and a light at the end, into your digestive tract. 

During a gastroscopy, this flexible instrument (a gastroscope or endoscope) is inserted down your throat and into your oesophagus. The gastroscope produces video images of the inside of your upper digestive tract. It’s sometimes called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or a oesophagho-gastric-duodenoscopy (OGD).

A referral letter from a consultant or GP is required before booking any diagnostic investigation.

What does a gastroscopy look for?

A gastroscopy can help diagnose and monitor a range of conditions, including:

Your doctor may recommend you have a gastroscopy if you have:

During a gastroscopy, small tissue samples (biopsies) can also be collected via instruments passed through the gastroscope. These biopsies will then be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

A gastroscopy can also be used to treat certain conditions by passing instruments through the gastroscope. Therapeutic gastroscopies can be used to:

  • Remove objects that are stuck in your throat
  • Remove polyps or other small growths
  • Stop bleeding from swollen veins (varices) or stomach ulcers
  • Widen a narrow oesophagus

Gastroscopy procedure

Gastroscopy preparation

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Your doctor or nurse will advise you on what preparation you’ll need to do for your gastroscopy, as well as tell you what will happen before, during and after. 

You shouldn’t eat or drink anything for a few hours before your procedure so your doctor can see your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum clearly.

During a gastroscopy

At Spire Healthcare, a gastroscopy usually takes around 10-30 minutes, although you will likely be in hospital for several hours. Your gastroscopy will be performed by a doctor or a nurse specially trained in the procedure (an endoscopist). 

Your clinician might use a spray to numb your throat. You’ll be able to breathe comfortably as the tube will not be fed through your windpipe. Sedation is given as an injection at the start of your procedure and will help relax you but will also make you feel drowsy. 

You’ll be given a mouth guard to hold your mouth open and to protect your teeth. The gastroscope will then be gently passed down your throat. Gas may be passed through the gastroscope into your stomach to allow a better view.

A tissue sample (biopsy) may also be taken and sent to a laboratory for further investigation.

After a gastroscopy

If you haven’t had sedation, you can go home shortly after your gastroscopy. However, if you have had sedation, you’ll need to stay in hospital in a recovery room until the effects of the sedative start to wear off. You can leave once you feel ready, which is usually after around an hour. However, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours. You won’t be able to drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours either.

If you had a local anaesthetic spray, you won’t be able to eat or drink until its effects wear off, which usually takes around an hour. 

Where to get a private gastroscopy

Almost all of our hospitals offer gastroscopy. Our fast diagnostics mean you don’t have to wait long for your results. Find your nearest Spire hospital.

Spire Manchester Hospital

How long does a gastroscopy take?

A gastroscopy to investigate or diagnose a condition often takes less than 15 minutes. If you’re having therapeutic gastroscopy to treat a condition, it can take longer. In either case, you can expect to be in hospital for several hours. 

If you have had sedation, you’ll need to wait in hospital for an hour or so until you start to recover from its effects and you will need to avoid driving or operating machinery for 24 hours.

Gastroscopy results

A healthcare professional trained in gastroscopies will carry out your procedure. They may be able to tell you the results straight away, or they’ll send a report to the doctor who requested your gastroscopy. 

If a biopsy was taken, it can take a few days to get the results from the laboratory. We try to get your results back to you as soon as possible, so less waiting means less worrying.

Gastroscopy side effects and risks

A gastroscopy is a relatively safe test, with few people developing complications. However, as with any procedure, there is always a small risk of complications — this is more likely if your gastroscopy is used for treatment, rather than for diagnosis.

If you have a sedative, you may develop breathing or heart problems although this is not common. However, you will be closely monitored for an hour or so after your procedure and if any complications arise from the sedative, they can be treated swiftly with medication. 

You may experience some bloating for a few hours after your gastroscopy, as well as a sore throat for a few days. If you had a biopsy taken, you may experience a small amount of bleeding.

Occasionally, the gastroscope may damage the lining of your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum causing some bleeding, infection or in rare cases, a tear.

There is also a small chance of developing a chest infection from breathing in spit while your throat is numb and damage to your teeth from biting the mouth guard used during the procedure.

At Spire Healthcare, we’re careful to weigh up the benefits and risks of any endoscopy and discuss it with you if you have any concerns.

What do you do after a gastroscopy?

If you have had sedation for your gastroscopy, you will need to remain in hospital for an hour or so. You will be monitored for any complications from the sedative. You can then return home but will not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours. It is also recommended that someone stay with you until the effects of the sedative wear off, which usually takes 24 hours.

If you haven’t had a sedative, after your gastroscopy, you can return to your normal activities. However, if a local anaesthetic spray was used to numb your throat you won’t be able to eat or drink until it wears off, usually in around an hour.

What can you eat after a gastroscopy?

If a local anaesthetic spray was used to numb your throat, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything for around an hour ie until the anaesthetic wears off. You may also have a sore throat for a few days, so you may want to avoid eating anything too spicy, dry or crunchy. You may also want to avoid fizzy drinks until your throat feels better.

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

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