Community Diagnostic Centres

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What is a Gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a procedure that allows us to examine the lining of the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This includes the oesophagus (the tube that carries food to your stomach), the stomach and the duodenum (the first part of the small bowel). It is useful in diagnosing a range of symptoms and for monitoring pre-existing conditions.

A flexible tube smaller than your little finger is passed trans nasally (through your nose or your mouth), down the oesophagus and into the stomach by a specially trained doctor or nurse, called an endoscopist. We will numb your nose and throat with an anaesthetic spray to minimise discomfort. 

Preparing for your procedure

It is extremely important that you DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING FOR 6 HOURS prior to your procedure. This includes chewing gum and boiled sweets. You may have sips of water only, up until 2 HOURS before your procedure.

This is extremely important as it ensures your stomach is completely empty when we perform the examination. We may have to rebook your appointment if it is not.

You will receive a consent form and health questionnaire in the post. These can also be downloaded below. Please make yourself familiar with the consent form and make sure you have this with you to complete with the nurse before your procedure. 

Please also complete the health questionnaire prior to arriving for your procedure.

Any regular medication may be taken on the morning of the procedure, with a very small amount of water. If you are on anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication, please read our leaflet, Anticoagulant & Antiplatelet Advice, available below. Please bring with you a list of all current medications.

What to expect on the day

What happens before your procedure?

When you arrive at the unit, please report to reception. You will be asked to take a seat in the waiting area until the admissions nurse is ready to see you. Although we endeavor to see you at your allotted appointment time, we do sometimes experience delays in our list. Thank you for being patient, the reception staff and admissions nurse will be able to keep you updated on any delays.

In the admissions room, the nurse will take some information from you relating to your procedure and talk you through what to expect during your appointment. The procedure will be explained to you, along with the risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure. Once they are satisfied you understand what is going to happen, they will sign your consent form with you. This is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the examination.

The procedure can be performed via your nose or your mouth – this will be discussed with you on the day. You can choose to have a local anaesthetic spray or a sedative injection for the procedure, this will all be explained to you. If you are having the procedure done via your nose, a nurse will come and administer some decongestant into your nose and you will be given a pre-procedure drink (a small volume of fluid), before taking you into the procedure room. If you decide to have a sedative injection, a cannula will be inserted into your arm or your hand. You will remain here until the procedure room is ready for you. All of your belongings will either stay with you or remain in your pod area.

Please Note: Although the examination takes 20-30 minutes, please expect to be at the clinic for about 1 – 2 hours, due to the time it takes to get you admitted and then discharged after your examination. This does vary from clinic to clinic, but the admitting nurse will be able to give you a better idea on the day. Please bear this in mind when organising people to collect you. 

What happens during your procedure?

The endoscopist will spray your nostrils and / or your mouth with the local anaesthetic spray, before lying you down (on your left hand-side) on a trolley ready to commence the procedure. We will monitor your heart rate and oxygen levels throughout the procedure with a clip on your finger.

If you are having the procedure done via your nose – the scope, which has a camera and a light at the end of it, is passed through your nose, down your oesophagus and into your stomach. This is then examined closely by the endoscopist on the screen in front of them.

If you are having the procedure done via your mouth – you will be asked to remove any dentures and you will be given a small plastic mouthguard used to keep your mouth open during the procedure.

During the procedure, air will be passed down the endoscope to gently inflate your stomach to ensure the endoscopist has clear views. Sometimes, the endoscopist will need to take biopsies. These are small samples of tissue that are removed painlessly, using small forceps that are passed through the endoscope. It is unlikely you will feel this from happening.

If we are unable to proceed through your nostrils for any reason, we will need to perform the procedure orally (through the mouth). The procedure usually takes up to 10 minutes, although it can sometimes take longer. 

What happens after your procedure?

Once the procedure is completed, you will be taken through into the recovery area, (on the trolley, if you’ve had sedation) and you will be made comfortable.

If you have not had sedation, you will be able to go home as soon as the nurse has discharged you. If you have had sedation, you will be monitored in recovery for a short period.

Due to the local anaesthetic spray, you are unable to have anything to eat or drink for 1 hour, but this will be explained to you.

If you have had sedation, the cannula will be removed when the recovery nurse is satisfied you have recovered.

Before leaving the endoscopy unit, the results of your procedure will be discussed with you. This is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your results.

The nurse will talk you through your aftercare information, which will let you know what to expect in the hours and days following your procedure. Once the nurse is happy that you are feeling well you will be allowed to go home. You may experience some mild discomfort and bloating following your procedure. You will be advised when you can eat and drink. 

If you have sedation, the effects of the sedation can last for up to 24 hours. Although you may feel recovered, your judgement and reactions may be impaired during this time. It is essential you have someone to take you home and stay with you for the remainder of the day and overnight. It is recommended that you rest quietly for the remainder of the day.

Frequently asked questions

Is there an alternative procedure I could have?

For some conditions it may be possible to perform a Barium or CT examination. The disadvantage of this alternative procedure is that a biopsy cannot be taken, or the lining of the stomach cannot be seen. A gastroscopy is the most accurate procedure to have performed to detect serious bowel abnormalities.

What is the Throat Spray?

This is a local anaesthetic spray to numb your nose and/or your throat. It has a slightly bitter banana taste. You may have the feeling of a ‘lump’ in your throat, but you will still be able to swallow. This is normal following the throat spray. The sensation of the spray lasts for about 15-20 minutes. You will recover quicker using the spray and there will be no delay in you going home.

What is Sedation?

Intravenous sedation and pain relief are available for patients having this test, should you choose to have it. You can discuss this with the admitting nurse, or you can call us for more information before your procedure.

Please Note the sedation we offer is not a general anaesthetic but is a ‘conscious sedation’ used to relax you. You will not be fully asleep and will still be aware of your surroundings.

Can there be complications or risks?

As with most medical procedures, there are some risks involved. The admissions nurse and the endoscopist will explain this to you. Having a gastroscopy procedure is low risk and complications are uncommon, however, you need to be aware they can happen.

Will the procedure hurt?

You may feel some discomfort from the air that is put into your stomach which enables the endoscopist to view the lining.

Will I get my results on the day?

Upon completion of your procedure and once you have recovered, the findings will be discussed with you. If you have had any biopsies taken these will be sent away for testing. You will be given a copy of the procedure report and a copy will also be sent to your GP and your referring doctor.

Patient Information Leaflets

Whilst you will receive paper copies of our patient information leaflets in the post, you can also read them here and/or download them to your device if you wish.