What is Gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy (or endoscopy) is an examination of the oesophagus (gullet or food pipe), stomach and duodenum (upper part of the small bowel) using a flexible telescope called a gastroscope.

When necessary, during the examination, a number of small procedures can also be carried out. These procedures may include:

  • taking a small tissue sample (biopsy)
  • stopping bleeding from an ulcer
  • removal of polyps

Why a Gastroscopy is Used?

A gastroscopy can be used to check symptoms or confirm a diagnosis, or it can be used to treat a condition.

Checking Symptoms

A gastroscopy may be recommended if you have symptoms that suggest a problem with your stomach, oesophagus (gullet), or the first section of your small intestine (duodenum).

Problems that are sometimes investigated using a gastroscopy include:

Diagnosing Conditions

A gastroscopy is also used to help confirm (or rule out) suspected conditions, such as:

As well as examining the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum, the endoscope (a thin, flexible tube that's passed down your throat) can be used to remove small samples of tissue for testing. This is known as a biopsy.

Treating conditions

A gastroscopy can also be carried out to treat some problems affecting the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.

For example, a gastroscopy can be used to:

  • stop bleeding inside the stomach or oesophagus,such as bleeding caused bya stomach ulcer or enlarged veins (varices)
  • widen a narrowed oesophagus that's causing pain or swallowing difficulties –this can be caused by GORD, oesophageal cancer, or radiotherapy to the oesophagus
  • remove cancerous tumours, non-cancerous growths (polyps) or foreign objects
  • provide nutrients by way of a feeding tube, when a person is unable to eat in the normal way

Benefits of a Gastroscopy

An alternative method of examining this part of the body is by X-ray. Gastroscopy has the advantage over X-rays of generally being more accurate for detecting diseases, and also of allowing tissue samples or biopsies to be taken.