About Gastroscopy Examinations

What is a Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is an examination of the lining of the oesophagus (gullet) and stomach.

The gastroscope is a long flexible tube with a tiny video camera on the end (with thousands of tiny glass fibres to transmit light to the tip). It is passed into the mouth and down into the oesophagus and stomach. The lining of the stomach and oesophagus are directly visualised on a video screen. The linings are examined for abnormalities such as inflammation, ulceration or narrowings. Gastroscopy is the most accurate way of examining the inside of the oseophagus and stomach.

A gastroscopy examination may be recommended:

  1. To look for causes of epigastric discomfort and swallowing difficulties.
  2. To determine the extent and severity of inflammation and/or reflux in the stomach and oesophagus.
  3. To look for causes of blood loss in the stomach.
  4. To check for ulcers and polyps.

In certain cases, treatment is possible through the instrument thereby avoiding an operation. For example, biopsies or removal of polyps can be performed during the examination.

Preparation for the Gastroscopy

For a successful gastroscopy it is very important that the doctor can see the lining of your stomach clearly. For this reason you should have no food or drink for 6 hours before the examination. If the examination is conducted in the morning, this simply means that you should have nothing to eat or drink after waking that morning.

Please notify the nurse at The Endoscopy Clinic of any allergies, if you have any artificial joints, an artificial heart valve, if you are on Warfarin or other blood thinners (eg aspirin, clopidigrel, dabigitran), Lithium or a Diabetic. You should also tell the nurse if you are breastfeeding.

You will be required to sign a consent form for a gastroscopy with biopsy and CLO test (test for bacteria causing ulcers) and also to agree to appropriate intervention by your doctor during the procedure should it be considered necessary.

The Examination

The examination is usually carried out on an outpatient basis in our Christchurch clinic. The procedure usually lasts about 30 minutes and is routinely performed while you are awake.

Prior to the commencement of the examination the back of your throat will be sprayed with a local anaesthetic. A small needle may be placed in the back of your hand to administer a light sedative, should this be necessary, though often gastroscopy is carried out under local anaesthetic only. Please take note of the information below regarding sedation if this is used.

About Sedation

At the completion of the examination you will be taken to the recovery ward for a period of rest and observation. The usual recovery time is about one hour (recovery time may vary). It will be necessary for you to arrange for someone to collect you from Reception to drive you home. It is illegal to drive yourself following sedation.

You are welcome to bring a support person to your hospital and rooms visits if you feel they would be of assistance to you.

The results of the gastroscopy will be reviewed with you at the completion of the procedure and you will be given a written report. You may have a hazy memory of the period during, and just after, the examination. If you have any questions about the gastroscopy please do not hesitate to call us for a report. If a polyp or biopsy has been taken it will be sent to the laboratory and a report is usually available within 3-4 days. A copy of this report is sent to your GP also.


Complications are rare. However, as with any diagnostic procedure, there are potential risk factors to be considered.

  1. Bleeding – this can occur with any type of biopsy.
  2. Perforation of the oesophagus or stomach – this may require surgical intervention.
    It may be necessary for you to be seen by your specialist one or two weeks following the gastroscopy for biopsy results and further management of your situation.

You are encouraged to discuss this procedure with your family doctor.

Information Sheets
Barrett’s Oesophagus
Helicobacter Pylori
Oesophogeal Dilation