Upper Endoscopy (Gastroscopy)

What is an upper endoscopy?

An upper endoscopy or gastroscopy is a procedure performed to visually assess the upper digestive system. Using and endoscope (a long, flexible tube fitted with a camera) the endoscopist can diagnose, and occasionally, treat conditions that affect the oesophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).

Why do I need an endoscopy?

A doctor may recommend an endoscopy to investigate a patient’s symptoms, diagnose and even treat conditions of the upper digestive system.

Symptoms generally include:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Difficulty swallowing

An endoscopy can also help identify inflammation, ulcers and tumors, and may be used to treat conditions of the upper digestive system such as removing a polyp or widening a narrow oesophagus.

What to expect during the procedure?

A local anaesthetic may be applied at the back of the throat and then a sedative is administered intravenously. Patients may be asked to wear a plastic mouth guard to hold their mouth open for the procedure.

The endoscopist inserts the endoscope into the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach. The camera at the end of the endoscope transmits images to a monitor in the exam room. The surgeon watches this monitor to look for any abnormalities in the upper digestive tract.

The endoscope does not interfere with your breathing.

Please note patients will be required to stop drinking and eating up to eight hours before the endoscopy to ensure the stomach is empty for the procedure.

How long does the procedure take?

An endoscopy typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the situation and condition.

What are the risks associated with an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is a very safe procedure. Rare complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Tearing of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Reaction to sedation