This procedure is sometimes called oesophagogastroduodenoscopy, but for practical purposes is usually shortened to "gastroscopy". During this procedure the endoscopist uses a long flexible tube with a camera on the end to visualize the inside of the oesophagus (food pipe), stomach and duodenum (first part of the small bowel). The images of these organs are projected on a screen that the endoscopist can inspect.
The procedure is uncomfortable. As a result, it is necessary to spray the back of the throat with local anaesthetic and give intravenous sedation to the patient to minimize this discomfort. This is not a full anaesthetic, but most patients will remember very little about the procedure afterwards.

Diagnostic indications for gastroscopy include:

  • Upper abdominal pain or indigestion i.e. dyspepsia
  • Upper gastro-intestinal tract bleeding
  • Unexplained iron deficiency anaemia
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Swallowing difficulties i.e. dysphagia
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Persistent gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms
  • Persistent non-cardiac chest pain
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting


Various therapeutic interventions can also be performed using gastroscopy:

  • Dilatation of oesophageal strictures
  • Resection of gastric polyps and high grade dysplastic lesions
  • Ablation of vascular abnormalities using argon plasma coagulation
  • Radiofrequency ablation of Barrett’s oesophagus and Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia (GAVE)
  • Oesophageal stenting
  • Duodenal stenting

Whenever procedures are performed, there is a risk of complications. The risk of significant complications from gastroscopy is extremely low. Such complications include:

  • Sedation-related complications e.g. over-sedation with suppression of breathing. An antidote will be given in this situation and the procedure will be abandoned.
  • Perforation: This can occur either if there is an anatomical abnormaility in the oesophagus or if an intervention is performed e.g. resection of a large tumour endoscopically or ablation of a vascular lesion using argon plasma coagulation. If perforation occurs, it is considered an emergency and an operation may need to be performed.
  • Bleeding: If a polyp is resected or if an ulcer is biopsied, it may cause significant bleeding. Usually this is dealt with during the gastroscopy, but bleeding can occur later and a repeat procedure may be required to stop the bleeding.

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