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Why do l need a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is often recommended when you have symptoms of upper digestive problems. These may include problems such as indigestion, pain in the upper abdomen or vomiting of blood stained material among other symptoms. Sometimes a gastroscopy may be done more than once, to make sure that the lining of the digestive tract has healed after the treatment. 

What can a gastroscopy show?

A gastroscopy can show many conditions that affect the digestive system, for example:
- Reflux of acid from the stomach up into the gullet
- Oesophagitis, or inflammation of the lining of the gullet
- Ulcers on the lining of the gullet, the stomach or the duodenum
- Cancer of the stomach
Sometimes your specialist will take a small sample of the tissue lining the walls of the digestive tract. This is called a biopsy. The biopsy sample will be sent to a pathology laboratory where it can be examined under the microscope to look for possible infection or abnormal cells. Recently, the bacteria helicobacter pylori has been shown to cause duodenal ulcers in some people. If this is detected, a specific treatment can be given to remove it.

Is a gastroscopy painful?

You should feel no pain when you are having a gastroscopy. A local anaesthetic to numb your throat will be used, either as a spray or a gargle, and you will be given a strong, short acting sedative anaesthetic. You will feel drowsy during the test, and may not remember much about it afterwards. 

Are there any side effects or complications?

Complications from a gastroscopy are very rare. Accidental tearing through the wall of the digestive tract has been reported in less than 0.01% of people having the test. Because of the procedure is done under local anaesthetic, the risks of heart or lung complications is also extremely rare - less than 0.05%

Are there any special preparations before a gastroscopy?

 You must have nothing to eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the gastroscopy. A referral and valid appointment will need to be made prior. 

What happens after the test?

You may feel a little bloated after the test and need to belch. This is normal. You are allowed to eat as normal afterwards. If any of the following occurs within 24 hours, contact the doctor who performed the test, your own doctor the nearest possible hospital: 
- Severe or persistent chest pain or upper abdominal pain
- Vomiting of blood
- Persistent vomiting
- Passage of black bowel actions
- Persistent swelling of the abdomen
- High temperature (fever)

How do l receive the results?

If possible, your specialist will speak to you after the examination, but your referring doctor will be notified of the results and will arrange whatever treatment is necessary.