This procedure involves an endoscope – a long, thin flexible tube with a ‘video camera’ at the tip – being passed through the mouth into the oesophagus, stomach and first part of the small bowel. It allows the doctor to inspect these areas as well as perform specialised procedures such as biopsies. A gastroscopy is usually performed as day case surgery in a health care facility.
Gastroscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of indigestion, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It is also the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Gastroscopy is more accurate than x-rays for detecting inflammation, ulcers or tumours in the upper GI tract. Biopsies (samples of tissue) can be taken to determine sites of infection, to test the functioning of the small bowel, and to diagnose abnormal tissue including conditions such as coeliac disease and cancerous lesions.
Gastroscopy can also be used to treat conditions of the upper GI tract. Your doctor can pass small instruments through the endoscope to directly treat many abnormalities with little or no discomfort. For example, your doctor might stretch a narrowed area, remove polyps (usually benign growths) or treat bleeding.