A gastroscopy is a test to check inside your throat, food pipe (oesophagus) and stomach, known as the upper part of your digestive system.

It is used to examine the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of your upper bowel) and uses a flexible instrument - an endoscope - that is passed through your mouth. The endoscope is about the width of your little finger and has a light and a miniature camera at the tip. Small samples of the lining (biopsies) are sometimes taken through the endoscope.

Click on the headings below to learn more about this procedure:

What to expect

    The test is simple and lasts about for around five minutes.

    You will be lying on your left side and the Doctor may give you an injection to relax you if you are nervous. There is a slight risk (a one in 1,000 chance) of chest infection after the examination. Sore throat and bleeding can occur, though this is rare. An alternative would be an X-ray (barium meal) that gives less information and could lead to a gastroscopy and biopsies anyway for clarification.

    Your treatment may provide an important opportunity for training. If this happens it will be under the careful supervision of a Senior Doctor. You may refuse to be examined by a trainee without this adversely affecting your care and treatment.

After the test

    If you have not had sedation and biopsies, you will be able to leave immediately. If you've had sedation you will need to stay for at least one hour until you are sufficiently recovered. We prefer that you have a relative or friend to accompany you home. The result of the test will be given to you verbally and in writing.

    If biopsy samples are taken the results may not be known for several days and will be sent to your Doctor or discussed with you in the hospital clinic. If other tests are to be arranged this may be discussed with you after the endoscopy.

    The effects of sedation can be subtle and last longer than you think and you should not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours.

    If you have abdominal pain, fever or difficulty breathing up to 48 hours after the procedure, you should contact your GP or the hospital.