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:

  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • persistently feeling andbeing sick
  • difficulties swallowing or pain when swallowing ( dysphagia )
  • a reduced number of red blood cells ( anaemia ), which may be caused by persistentinternal bleeding
  • severe bleeding, which may have causeda sudden, sharp pain in your abdomen, vomiting blood or passing stools (faeces) that are very dark or "tar-like"

Diagnosing conditions

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

  • stomach ulcers (sometimes know as peptic ulcers) open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach and small intestine
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) where stomach acid leaks back up into the oesophagus
  • coeliac disease a common digestive condition, where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten in food
  • Barrett's oesophagus abnormal cells on the lining of the oesophagus
  • portal hypertension where the blood pressure inside the liver is abnormally high, causing swollen veins (varices)to develop on the lining of the stomach and oesophagus
  • stomach cancer and oesophageal cancer

As well as examining the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum, the endoscope (a thin, flexible tubethat'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 theoesophagus, stomach and duodenum.

For example, a gastroscopy can be used to:

  • stop bleeding inside the stomach or oesophagus , such as bleeding caused by a stomach ulceror 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

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016