What Is a Gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a procedure during which an endoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera at its tip) is passed through the mouth and into the stomach in order to examine the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). During the procedure, the gastroenterologist may take biopsies that will later be inspected by a pathologist.

Why Is a Gastroscopy Performed?

A gastroscopy is typically used to investigate symptoms of the upper digestive tract, such as abdominal pain, heartburn, indigestion, loss of weight, difficulty swallowing and nausea or vomiting.

A gastroscopy is also used to treat various gut-related conditions, treat digestive tract bleeding, dilate a narrowing, place a stent or resect abnormal tissue.

How Do I Prepare For a Gastroscopy?

Very little preparation is required for this procedure. For safety purposes and to ensure a complete procedure, the stomach needs to be completely empty. For this reason, you should avoid drinking or eating for 6 hours prior to your procedure.

Medication: while the majority of meds can be taken as usual with a sip of water on the day of your procedure, certain medications need to be stopped or have their dose altered.

You should notify your physician at least 7 days prior to your procedure if you are taking:

  • Blood thinners (clopidogrel, warfarin, pradaxa, eliquis, Xaralto etc.)
  • Diabetes medications (metformin, gliflozins, insulin etc)

On the day of your procedure bring your referral, a list of the medications you’re taking and your Medicare card/Health Fund information.

What Will Happen On the Day of the Gastroscopy?

  1. After registering at reception, you will be checked in by a nurse
  1. You will then be seen by your Gastroenterologist and Anaesthetist who will discuss your medical history and explain the procedure.
  1. You will be given a light anaesthetic, and while this is not a general anaesthetic, most patients are very comfortable and do not experience any pain
  1. Once sedated you lying comfortably on your left side, the endoscope is passed gently through the mouth and into your stomach.
  1. The procedure usually takes between 5-10 minutes.

What Happens After My Gastroscopy?

Once the procedure is finished, you will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the anesthesia has worn off. You will then be offered something a drink and some food. At home, regular food can be consumed unless the physician instructs otherwise.

You MUST NOT drive, return to work, operate heavy machinery or sign and legal documents on the same day of the gastroscopy. A designated driver MUST be appointed in advance to drive you home. You will need to have someone stay with you overnight after the procedure.

Are There Any Risks or Side-Effects?

A gastroscopy is a very safe procedure that most patients tolerate extremely well. While not common, minor side effects can include:

  • bloating
  • abdominal discomfort (from retained air in the stomach)

More serious but extremely rare complications can also occur and include bleeding, or a tear in the lining of the stomach (perforation). If this happens, you will be admitted to hospital and may require surgery.

Please contact GastroX or your nearest emergency department if you experience any of the following symptoms following your gastroscopy:

  • Fever
  • Worsening chest or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Other symptoms that cause you concern.