What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a procedure which allows visualisation of the inside of the oesophagus, stomach and a section of the small intestine. During the procedure, a gastroscope is used to visualise the above. This comprises a flexible tube with a light source as well as a camera. The camera works by transmitting images to a monitor during the procedure.

Why is it performed?

A gastroscopy may be recommended for a number of reasons. If you have difficulty swallowing, or suffer from chronic stomach pain, it may be helpful to undergo the procedure. Other conditions, such as stomach ulcers, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, polyps, and small tumours can also be diagnosed and treated by means of gastroscopy. A gastroscopy is also recommended for patients who complain of recurring indigestion, heartburn and frequent vomiting.

How does it work?

The procedure itself is typically quite quick, often lasting less than fifteen minutes if it is performed for diagnostic purposes. In cases where a condition is treated with gastroscopy, the procedure may take a bit longer.

Prior to a gastroscopy, one needs to be fasted from the night before, to ensure an empty stomach on the day of gastroscopy. Before the procedure begins, you will be given a sedative or an anaesthetic spray to numb your throat. You will then be positioned on your left hand side and the scope will be passed through the mouth under direct vision. The camera on the end of the endoscope will transmit images to a monitor.

The surgeon will be able to view these images in detail and assess any abnormalities, such as inflammation in the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. He will also be able to diagnose or rule out cancer of the stomach and oesophagus, as well as stomach and duodenal ulcers.